Aikman, Fox Broadcasters Travel Called Inappropriate

Fox says it was unaware travel plan was inappropriate.

Investigators say a lawyer for the U.S. Marshals Service used government cars and armed deputies to drive himself and broadcasters to major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the World Series.

A report issued Monday by the Justice Department's inspector general was highly critical of the lawyer, Joseph Band, who worked in the agency's Washington office.

Band also worked as a part-time statistician for Fox Sports, and he came under scrutiny after he received rides to two World Series games in 2007 in Boston, as well as the 2008 Super Bowl in Phoenix.

The report issued Monday by Inspector General Glenn Fine found Band sometimes got escorts not just for himself, but for broadcasters as well.

Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell said company officials were unaware "that those arrangements were in any way inappropriate, and regret to learn now that they apparently were."

Fine said use of armed government agents as a VIP car service violates ethical standards, and U.S. Marshals in the cities Band visited should not have agreed to his requests.

Band "regularly and inappropriately solicited and received assistance of (marshal service) resources for his personal activities, in violation of government ethical rules," the report concluded.

Band retired from the agency earlier this month, said his lawyer, Jacob Stein.

In a written defense of Band's conduct, Stein said marshals often assist at sporting events and other high-profile activities, and his client had, on his own time, assisted with "public activities helpful to the community reputation of the service."

Band maintained he was granted permission for government personnel "to take time off for the events he covered," and had no "control, knowledge, or decision-making discretion with respect to the use of any government vehicle or government personnel," Stein said.

One deputy marshal said he picked up Band at the airport to bring him to an NFL playoff game in Tampa Bay, then drove Band back to the airport, leading the way for limousines carrying two broadcasters.

The deputy, who was not identified in the report, said he didn't question whether it was appropriate to do so because Band "was the guy who advises us on ethics."

The Marshals Service said it agreed with the report's conclusions that the agency should tighten its oversight of its employees' outside work.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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