GOP lawmakers demand answers on withheld restitution following Nassar revelation

July 29, 2021
In The News

A group of Republican representatives led by Rep. Lance Gooden (Texas) on Thursday signed a letter to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, demanding answers regarding its apparent failure to stop "illicit financial activity" and ensure prisoners pay restitution to their victims.

The letter addressed to Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal comes just one day after court filings revealed that disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar appears to have been able to avoid paying $60,000 to his victims while in prison.

"While we appreciate Bureau’s role in protecting public safety, we are concerned some inmates may be abusing the lax requirements of the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP) and loose regulations of the Bureau Trust Fund to withhold restitution to their victims and participate in illicit financial activity," the representatives wrote.

The lawmakers pointed to reports that suggest that the bureau currently manages over $100 million in inmate accounts, but those accounts do not appear to be subject to any "regulatory scrutiny." They wrote that this lack of oversight could result in "abuse, money laundering, and corruption."

“News of Larry Nassar withholding restitution to his rape victims may be getting the attention, but he is only one of a long list of federal inmates who have been allowed to continue victimizing people from behind bars,” Gooden said in a statement.

Nassar, who was convicted of sexually assaulting dozens of female gymnasts and was imprisoned on child pornography charges, was ordered to pay $62,788.52 in monetary penalties.

Prosecutors wrote in court documents that Nassar has only paid the bare minimum toward the restitutions he has been ordered to pay to his victims, paying only about $8.33 a month since being imprisoned in late 2017.

The lawmakers requested that the bureau clarify what resources are available to prevent illicit financial activity and ensure court orders are followed, how much money it currently manages in inmate accounts and what policies it currently has in place regarding debt collection.

The letter was also signed by GOP Reps. Fred Keller (Pa.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Dusty Johnson (S.D.), Bob Gibbs (Ohio), Larry Bucshon (Ind.), Billy Long (Mo.) and Scott Perry (Pa.).

The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment when reached by The Hill.