I-Team: New misconduct allegations at US Marshal's office

April 17, 2014 (CHICAGO)

In this clash of the lawmen, Deputy Stephen Linder is suing his one-time boss, U.S. Marshal Darryl McPherson. Linder accuses McPherson of trying to railroad him in a brutality case. It's just the latest blot on the management of the Marshal Service, the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the land. Also named as defendants in the lawsuit are federal prosecutors from Washington and other government agents.

The agency responsible for finding fugitives, moving prisoners, protecting judges and securing courts, has trouble at the top.

For more than a year, the U.S. Marshal service has done nothing publicly to address what U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall determined: authorities were "overly aggressive" with witnesses, "threatening them with prosecution." Judge Kendall ruled that U.S. Marshal Darryl McPherson and Washington prosecutors had violated the constitutional rights of Deputy Stephen Linder, by bullying witnesses who might have cleared him in a brutality case.

The charges against Mr. Linder were thrown out and he returned to the job. Now Linder has turned around and filed a federal lawsuit against Marshal McPherson claiming misconduct by him and other federal agents; manipulation of internal investigation; intimidation of witnesses; the manufacturing evidence and malice or reckless indifference to justice. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman was just assigned Thursday to hear the case.

Linder and his attorneys declined to be interviewed for this report. A spokesman for Marshal McPherson also would not comment. His office has been in damage control mode for a year.

The I-Team reported last July that the U.S. Marshal's field office here was under federal investigation for financial issues.

An audit of the office and it's nearly $30 million Chicago budget turned up such serious problems that Washington sent in a fixer to handle things for five months.

The I-Team reported that money was being spent on office furniture sources claimed was unnecessary, and giveaway trinkets such as challenge coins, even after the Department of Justice had put a freeze on such purchases.

The financial debacle at the Marshals service here occurred right in the middle of the office turmoil over Deputy Steve Linder. Now, in what insiders see as phase two of the Marshal's mess, this lawsuit exposing wounds that never really healed and a department of justice review that so far has yielded no changes.

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