US Marshals leader resigns amid scrutiny of secret surveillance

US Marshals leader resigns amid scrutiny of secret surveillance
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The head of the U.S. Marshals Service is stepping down later this year, amid heightened scrutiny on the law enforcement agency.

Stacia Hylton has served as the director of the agency since January 2011 and had planned to resign since last winter, the agency said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

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Upon retiring, Hylton will pursue advocacy work on law enforcement safety and community policing, the department said. She plans to stay on for an "interim period" until her replacement takes over.

“I have no doubt that the progress we have made will have a lasting impact and that the future of the U.S. Marshals Service will be as bright and timeless as our storied past,” she said in a statement.

The Marshals Service is responsible for protecting the nation’s courts, prisoners and tracking down fugitives.

It has come under new pressure from Congress in recent months, on the heels of separate revelations about its secret use of surveillance devices that scoop up information from people’s cellphones and possible misconduct in hiring and spending money.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been one of the most vocal critics of the apparent misuse of money and employment quid pro quos within the agency, which sits under the umbrella of the Department of Justice. 

“It’s never good news when the head of an agency needs to step aside in the midst of these kinds of allegations, and it also doesn’t mean the investigations are complete,” he said in a statement on Tuesday, after the announcement from the Marshals Service.

“As the Marshals Service moves forward, the next director must be committed to bringing real, positive change to what appears to be a culture corroded by unethical hiring practices, misuse of funds and retaliation against whistleblowers.”

Grassley’s committee has begun an investigation into the possible abuse which might continue past Hylton’s tenure, he said.