DEA improperly paid $854,460 for passenger lists

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that the Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers. The DEA could have lawfully obtained the information for free through a law enforcement network.

The employee was not publicly identified except as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a one-paragraph summary of the incident by Amtrak's inspector general. The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee "regularly" sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak's approval.

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.

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