A U.S. Marshals Service official misspent $4.3 million meant for courthouse security and witness protection to pay for fitness centers and firing ranges, said a Justice Department investigation reported by USA Today. The Office of Management and Budget had told David Barnes not to use construction money on exercise and training facilities, citing agency policy and appropriations laws that restricted the money for improved prisoner security, the report said. Barnes, who oversees courthouse space, concealed the spending from his superiors and directed $2.6 million in construction money for fitness centers and firing ranges at 20 federal courthouses from 2000 to 2005, the report said.
Barnes’ lawyer, Charles Printz, said his client had authority to spend construction money on firing ranges and fitness centers. Kevin Linskey, the former staff director of the Senate panel controlling Justice Department spending, said Congress gave the agency leeway to spend its construction money, including for fitness centers and firing ranges. The Justice Department said construction money was supposed to be for “prisoner holding space” in courthouses. In 2001, a congressional committee warned security must be tightened “before a tragedy occurs.”