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 free through a law enforcement network.
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.
Under a joint drug enforcement task force that includes the DEA and Amtrak's own police agency, the task force can obtain Amtrak confidential passenger reservation information at no cost, the inspector general's report said.
Reservation information is collected by airlines, rail carriers and others and generally includes a passenger's name and other personal information.