Archive for Saturday, September 29, 2007

Taxpayers spent $28M for judge’s protection

September 29, 2007

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— Protecting former federal judge Michael Mukasey cost taxpayers an estimated $28 million over more than seven years - or $10,000 a day - even as Justice Department agencies argued about how much of a threat he faced.

Now nominated to become the nation's 81st attorney general, Mukasey was given U.S. Marshals bodyguards while presiding over a high-profile terror trial in the early 1990s, when he served as a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan. He kept the protections, code-named "Eagle Detail," until 2005 - nine years after the trial ended.

The detail was withdrawn shortly after deputy marshals protecting Mukasey and U.S. District Judge Kevin T. Duffy filed a grievance accusing the two jurists and their wives of assigning them valet-like chores.

The U.S. Marshals Service said most of the money paid the salaries and benefits for Mukasey's bodyguards - and would have been spent whether they were assigned to protect the judge or someone else. The marshals protect about 200 judges and other court officers annually.

Still, costs to protect at least one other judge in the same Manhattan courthouse fell far below the price to protect Mukasey, according to financial records obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The U.S. Marshals Service records indicate the cost of Eagle Detail totaled $27.8 million between 1998 until it ended in mid-2005. Budget officials with the Marshals Service did not dispute that total, which averaged $3.7 million a year.

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