Department of Justice

Department of Justice

Federal Employee Settles After Allegedly Pretending to Have Cancer for Extra Time Off

ATF agent took 80 days of sick leave while working a private sector job.

Seven years after a federal employee allegedly pretended to have cancer to receive extra paid sick leave, according to the Justice Department, he has agreed to pay the government back $40,000 in a settlement.

Douglas daCosta, a San Francisco-based criminal investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, falsely reported undergoing “extensive treatment” for cancer and took 80 days of paid sick leave between January 2009 and his retirement that same year. The former ATF agent forged documents from a doctor and used his time off to work a side job in the private sector, Justice said. The government alleged daCosta “did not have cancer and was not undergoing any such treatments.”

“When a law enforcement officer misuses taxpayer funds, he does a disservice to his colleagues who serve with professionalism and distinction,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement shows that we will not hesitate to hold individuals accountable if they misuse taxpayer funds.”

The government settled with daCosta, who agreed to repay $40,000 to account for the payments he received while improperly taking sick leave in 2009.

“Federal agents must be held to answer when they breach the public’s trust,” said Elise Chawaga, who headed up the investigation for Justice’s inspector general.