Fore! DOJ Probes Official Golfing on Government Trips

The Justice Department looks into why official hired a Honduran General.


June 18, 2008— -- A DOJ official who was caught golfing during conferences and who put a former Honduran Colonel on the payroll at $450 a day now finds himself in the hot seat and faces a Justice Department investigation and a Congressional hearing.

The DOJ Inspector General has launched an investigation into fancy trips around the world taken by J. Robert Flores, the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and a Bush appointee, which always included golf and/or tennis, according to current and former staff members.

"Flores would golf during the day while on official travel around the country on tax payer funds," said Scott Peterson, a former staff member at OJJDP who traveled with Flores on various occasions.

An OIG investigator questioned one staff member about Flores' travel and about an ex-Colonel in the Honduran army hired by Flores who at one time ran for president of Honduras.

The former Honduran presidential candidate Hector Rene Fonseca was not a US citizen in 2004 when hired and did not meet the residence requirement of living in the US for two out of the previous five years, according to a DOJ staffer familiar with Fonseca's contract.

The staffer said it took Flores a year to jump over all the legal hurdles necessary to hire Fonseca and went so far as to get a waiver from the Assistant Attorney General for Administration at Main Justice. The staffer said the Human Resources Department was concerned that giving access to the DOJ computer system to a non-US citizen and a former Honduran Colonel could be dangerous for security reasons.

Fonseca, whose Honduran military career spanned three decades, was contracted to work on faith-based and gang issues, according to DOJ staff members. The staffer familiar with Fonseca's contract said Flores invented the job and that no one in the office knew that job was needed until the HR Department was told to hire Fonseca. He was paid $450 per day and was expected to work full time, according to the staffer.

Staffers said that although he was given an office, which is unusual for a DOJ contractor, he rarely showed up.

Fonseca attended Church with Flores, according to DOJ staffers, and is married to Deborah Lynne De Moss, a major GOP contributor. Fonseca himself donated $2,000 to Bush in 2004, the same year he was hired, and reportedly raised about $50,000 more on behalf of the president, even though he could not vote in the election.

In an email obtained by ABC News, Fonseca said farewell to his colleagues in July of 2007, saying "It is my hope and prayer that the joy and peace of Jesus Christ will be real to each on of you."

Fonseca could not immediately be reached for comment on this article.

The DOJ would not comment on this story but referred ABC News to Flores' testimony tomorrow at the Committee on Government Oversight hearing.

The hearing will probe how Flores awarded hundreds of millions of DOJ grants that have come under scrutiny after current and former employees said he ignored professional staff recommendations and played favorites with groups connected to the Bush White House.

ABC News conducted an investigation into the Flores' grant awards, which aired last week on "Nightline".

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