Investigators: US wildlife official broke law with grants
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Investigators say a senior official at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service broke the law with his involvement in awarding $324,000 in conservation grants to a nonprofit where his wife worked as a contractor.
Details on the conflict of interest determination involving Richard Ruggiero were revealed in a report released Tuesday by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.
Investigators say that as chief of the agency's international conservation division Ruggiero made a series of grant awards and extensions to the International Fund for Animal Welfare beginning in 2014.
The Inspector General's office says the awards improperly benefited Ruggiero's wife, Heather Eves, a wildlife biologist who was paid by the group.
Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift says Ruggiero is on leave pending disciplinary action.
Ruggiero could not be reached for comment.