WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers, which the DEA could have lawfully obtained for free through a law enforcement network, The Associated Press has learned.
The employee was not publicly identified except as a “secretary to a train and engine crew” in a report on the incident by Amtrak’s inspector general. The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had effectively been acting as an informant who “regularly” sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak’s approval, according to a one-paragraph summary of the matter.
On Monday, the office of Amtrak Inspector General Tom Howard declined to identify the secretary or say why it took so long to uncover the payments. DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden declined to comment.
Postal Service’s losses
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service continued to bleed money during its second quarter, despite an increase in package revenues and an emergency price hike that took effect in January.
The agency said Monday that it lost $2 billion from April to June, compared with a net loss of $740 million in the same period last year, and a $1.9 billion loss in its first quarter.
Feds: Beware bitcoin
WASHINGTON — Government regulators issued a consumer advisory Monday on the risks of bitcoin and other digital currencies, warning that the virtual funds expose users to volatile exchange rates, hacking, scams and theft.
Markups and transaction fees for digital funds such as bitcoin, XRP and Dogecoin can cost consumers more than using credit cards or regular cash, and the companies that issue digital currencies aren’t backed or insured by any government, according to the six-page alert from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal watchdog agency.
DURHAM, N.C. — The husband of an American missionary hospitalized with the deadly Ebola virus is among three missionaries who were quarantined as a precautionary measure after arriving in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday night, the North Carolina-based SIM USA announced Monday.
David Writebol was placed in quarantine on a private section of SIM USA’s campus in Charlotte. He is the husband of Nancy Writebol, one of two Americans being treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. David Writebol arrived with two other missionaries, described as doctors who have treated Ebola patients at SIM USA’s hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.
New wildfire alert
PORTLAND, Ore. — Dozens of new wildfires could break out across West Coast states Monday and into Tuesday, officials warned, just as crews begin to get a handle on conflagrations that have burned more than 500,000 acres in California, Washington and Oregon.
Several dozen major fires still threaten more than 1,000 homes in the three states, fire officials said.
Nanny bilked family
WASHINGTON — A Maryland nanny who stole $431,542 from her employers to gamble and buy a house in Africa pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges, prosecutors said.
Kadiatu Sahid Kamara, 50, of Gaithersburg had access to checks linked to a married couple's money market account while she was caring for their children, the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
— Compiled from news services