Dale J. Jones Jr., deposed as director of federal fisheries law enforcement in the wake of an inspector general's report alleging high-level misuse of funds and document shredding while agents excessively targeted New England fishermen, has been reassigned as a fisheries program specialist.
Jones' salary will drop from $158,500 to $155,000, according to Scott Smullen, a spokesman at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The announcement Monday by NOAA administrator Jane Lubencho of Jones' demotion also described the reassignment of Charles Juliand, the senior attorney for enforcement and litigation in the Northeast Division, based in Gloucester.
Juliand was identified by Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser as the epicenter of excessive law enforcement prosecution activities undertaken against the fishing industry.
Juliand was reassigned "away from enforcement duties to the Office of General Counsel for Natural Resources, where he will work on matters related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico," the NOAA announcement indicated.
The removal of Juliand and Jones comes weeks after Andrew Cohen, who was Jones' senior agent in charge of law enforcement in the Northeast, announced his resignation from the agency.
The three made up a trio that has come to symbolize government abuse of private citizens, the fishermen and fishing businesses of the nation — especially those along the East Coast, where the fisheries from Maine to the Carolinas are governed and policed from Gloucester.
Cohen was chastised by a federal judge for launching a public relations campaign against the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction in the summer of 2009 aimed at scaring off fishing boats. NOAA was lectured by U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock for attempting to close the business while a case was on appeal in his courtroom.
The IG's multiple reports made Juliand, Cohen's counterpart in the law office for enforcement and litigation, a featured figure representing an ugly attitude of disrespect of the fishing industry. The final report cited multiple statements and accused Juliand of bearing "animus" against fishermen and the industry.
"Such written remarks, actions and predispositions from a federal government attorney empowered with virtually unchecked prosecutional discretion constitute serious lack of judgment and conduct unbecoming a federal government attorney charged with enforcing the law," the IG's report found.
According to Smullen, Juliand will continue to work out of Gloucester while assigned to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and his salary remains unchanged at Grade 15, Step 9 — valued at roughly $126,000, according to federal pay scale Web site.
Juliand has mounted a fierce defense of his reputation, backed by his union, the National Weather Service Employees Organization, which asserted that his super aggressive approach to enforcing the Magnuson-Stevens Act was known and approved by his superiors.
"He was doing exactly what they wanted him to do," said Richard Hirn, attorney for the union. "It was Office of General Counsel management who wanted to destroy these people's livelihood."
Juliand issued a statement in the wake of the IG's report, describing himself as a "scapegoat" in a "smear" campaign launched by the Inspector General's office.
The announcement of Jones' new job Monday never identified him as the longtime chief of law enforcement. In that regard, the style mirrored the announcement in April that Jones was no long chief. That release simply said that Alan Risenhoover, a career NOAA bureaucrat, had been appointed acting director.
But Jones was removed after the IG testified under oath on consecutive days to two congressional subcommittees that Jones had authorized a mass document shredding while the IG was actively investigating and had charged overseas travel improperly to the Asset Forfeiture Fund, which was made up of fines paid in response to cases made against the fishing industry.
The IG found that the Northeast office, where Juliand and Cohen were senior officers, had issued fines as much as 500 percent higher than in other parts of the country.
Jones' status was withheld from Congress until Congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney pressured the disclosure from Lubchenco last summer that he had been put on paid leave.
"It is appropriate that Mr. Jones is officially no longer involved in law enforcement matters," Tierney said in a statement to the Times, "but questions remain about whether adequate actions have been taken against him in response to the mistreatment of our local fishermen under his watch.
"I am still not satisfied, as our community deserves further explanation," Tierney added, "and I will work to ensure that these issues are explored during the next Congressional hearing."
Tierney has confirmed that Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who chairs the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, intends to schedule a second hearing into the law enforcement scandal at NOAA.
The first hearing was held in Gloucester last March 2. It was the last public appearance for Jones, who sat beside Lubchenco and IG Zinser in City Hall's Kyrouz Auditorium.
The unraveling of the system beneath Jones, as details fell into the public under congressional, IG and press inquiries, became a cautionary tale of passive and acquiescent management.
The IG's initial report last January noted the agents working for Jones were at times allowed to operate "autonomously" and Cohen, in one interview with the Times, asserted that he encouraged targeting boats or businesses with bad reputations.
Jones was hired in 1999. He came to NOAA from landlocked Hagerstown, Md., and surrounded himself with colleagues he knew from the law enforcement circuit in suburban Maryland.
His new position, according to the job description, requires the "ability to manage, through subordinate supervisors, a complex or large bureau-level office; or manage the administrative functions of a large line component, applying skill in establishing objectives and assessing progress and skill in coordinating activities of several units and making adjustments to meet changing requirements within available resources."
Hirn, the union attorney, has told the Times he was unaware of any disciplining or sanctioning resulting from the scandal, which enters a new post-inspector general phase with the appointment of a special master to review past cases that involve possible miscarriage of justice and recommend rectification.
The master appointed was retired U.S. District Judge Charles B. Swartwood III, who is chairman of the Massachusetts Ethics Commission.
In July, Lubchenco directed NOAA General Counsel Lois Schiffer and her colleagues to report by July 30 "whether personnel actions are appropriate to ensure that those responsible for the problems surrounding the Asset Forfeiture Fund are held accountable."
But last week, her office deflected questions from the Times, citing the Privacy Act and saying "we are unable to comment on personnel decisions."
"The memo did not ask for a written report," NOAA spokeswoman Monica Allen said.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.