August 31, 2009

FBI keeping an eye on stimulus funds

The FBI said it is keeping a watchful eye on U.S. stimulus funding to try to head off criminal mischief involving the $787 billion economic package.

Because there is so much money involved, criminals will look to exploit the system, said Guy Petrillo, chief of the criminal division in the U.S. attorney's office in New York, The New York Times reported Monday.

In New York, large portions of the stimulus spending will go to construction projects and Medicaid -- familiar playgrounds for organized crime in the city, the Times said.

Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said a city the size of New York was already well prepared to detect criminals reaching into the federal cookie jar.

The notion that the city's vendor integrity mechanisms will somehow be taxed is false, La Vorgna said.

Congress has increased the budgets of 23 federal inspectors general by $220 million to help police the money flow.

Not everyone feels that's good enough.

The stimulus funding is being released ahead of internal controls, an anonymous law enforcement official told the Times, likening the new flow of money to putting a bank robber in a toll booth.