August 04, 2021

Durbin, Grassley Press BOP on Restitution for Victims of Larry Nassar

Letter to Director Carvajal follows new reports that BOP’s mishandling of inmate accounts may be sheltering funds owed to victims of crimes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today sent a second letter to Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal requesting answers to reports that BOP’s inmate Trust Fund/Deposit Fund program operates with little oversight, enables federal inmates to avoid paying child support and other debts, and fails to scrutinize inmate accounts for suspicious and potentially criminal activity.  Today’s letter follows new reports that, despite deposits into convicted sex offender Larry Nassar’s inmate trust account totaling more than $12,825 over the last three and a half years, BOP has only required him to pay about $300 toward satisfying fines and restitution imposed as part of his sentence for child pornography.

“Recent reports that BOP may be failing to ensure that victims of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar receive thousands of dollars in restitution raise urgent new concerns about BOP’s handling of inmate accounts, and the extent to which the accounts may be inappropriately used to shelter funds owed to victims of crimes,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators continued, “These reports are deeply disturbing—and, as we noted in our last letter, they do not reflect the assurances that BOP staff gave Committee staff earlier this year, when they said that BOP regularly assessed inmate accounts to ensure that inmates pay their debts, including restitution to crime victims and fines…  To the extent Nassar has the resources to make payments to his victims, he must fulfill these obligations.”

On June 29, Durbin and Grassley led a bipartisan group of Senate Judiciary Committee members on a letter to Carvajal requesting information on the BOP’s inmate Trust Fund/Deposit Fund program.  That month, the Washington Post reported that federal inmates hold more than $100 million in BOP-administered accounts and BOP reportedly does not always require inmates to satisfy debts from the money they hold in these accounts.  The Senators have not received a response to their original letter.

At an April Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on BOP oversight, Carvajal was unable to provide specific details about BOP’s policy and process for reviewing inmate accounts for the assessment of debts.

Full text of today’s letter is available here and below:

 

August 4, 2021

 

Dear Director Carvajal:

 

               We write to follow up on our June 29, 2021 letter requesting information on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) inmate Trust Fund/Deposit Fund program, to which we have not yet received a response. Recent reports that BOP may be failing to ensure that victims of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar receive thousands of dollars in restitution raise urgent new concerns about BOP’s handling of inmate accounts, and the extent to which the accounts may be inappropriately used to shelter funds owed to victims of crimes.

 

Last week, The Washington Post reported that despite deposits into Nassar’s inmate trust account totaling over $12,825.00 over the last three and a half years, BOP has only required him to pay about $300.00 toward satisfying fines and restitution imposed as part of his sentence for child pornography.[1] These reports are deeply disturbing—and, as we noted in our last letter, they do not reflect the assurances that BOP staff gave Committee staff earlier this year, when they said that BOP regularly assessed inmate accounts to ensure that inmates pay their debts, including restitution to crime victims and fines. Nassar owes over $60,000 in restitution and special assessments to the victims of his child sexual abuse.[2] To the extent Nassar has the resources to make payments to his victims, he must fulfill these obligations.

 

It is BOP’s responsibility to ensure that the accounts it manages are properly managed and monitored—and that inmates use funds in these accounts to pay their debts, including restitution to crime victims and fines. We reiterate our request for an immediate briefing on BOP’s oversight of the inmate Trust Fund/Deposit Fund program and again ask that you respond to our pending requests for information as soon as possible. In addition to responding to the outstanding requests from our June 29 letter, please also provide responses to the following questions as soon as possible and no later than August 18, 2021:

 

1)     Please provide the most recent Inmate Financial Responsibility Plan (IFRP) for Larry Nassar and any previous versions of the plan that were active during Nassar’s incarceration.

  1. Please explain how BOP arrived at the determination that Nassar should pay $100 monthly, or any other sum it determined appropriate, towards court fines and restitution.
  2. Has BOP re-evaluated or re-assessed Nassar’s IFRP since its initial assessment? As part of BOP’s evaluations did BOP review Nassar’s inmate account balance?

 

2)     Please state whether BOP reviewed and assessed Nassar’s COVID-19 stimulus payments for the satisfaction of court-ordered debts.

 

3)     Does BOP routinely require an inmate to pay only the minimum monthly contribution towards court fines irrespective of an inmate’s financial status?

 

4)     Did BOP notify any law enforcement agency, such as the U.S. Marshals or a U.S. Attorney’s office, that funds were potentially available for seizure in Nassar’s BOP trust account, as is suggested by reporting from CNN?[3]

 

5)     Please provide the complete transaction log for Nassar’s BOP trust account.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

-30-



[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/larry-nassar-prison-bank-account/2021/07/28/abdf6560-ee14-11eb-bf80-e3877d9c5f06_story.html

[2] United States v. Lawrence G. Nassar, 16-CR-642-JTN, Government Motion to Turn Over Funds in Inmate Trust Account to Apply to Criminal Monetary Penalties dated July 28, 2021 (ECF No. 69).

[3] https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/29/us/larry-nassar-court-payments-motion/index.html