Bush's choice to head Fish and Wildlife Service lost job in Pennsylvania

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's nominee to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was fired from the Pennsylvania Game Commission in 1995 amid allegations of payroll fraud.

Steven A. Williams was dismissed from his job as deputy executive director after it was discovered that he had asked a subordinate to change payroll records, which temporarily boosted Williams' salary, The Erie (Pa.) Times-News reported Sunday.

Williams was never charged over the incident. He told the newspaper he was frustrated over the dismissal and said he didn't know anyone was doing anything wrong. If the matter comes up during his Senate confirmation hearings, Williams said it will be a chance to tell his side of the story.

Mark Pfeifle, a spokesman for the Department of the Interior, which includes the Fish and Wildlife Service, said Sunday that Williams had been ''completely exonerated by the Pennsylvania attorney general, completely exonerated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and those who say otherwise are ill-advised and not backed up by the facts.''

''We look forward to his confirmation by the Senate,'' Pfeifle added.

Williams is currently the secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Bush announced July 18 that he would nominate Williams to run the federal agency that works to conserve and protect fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats.

''Steve Williams has a two-decade career protecting wildlife and bringing people together to resolve natural resource issues,'' said Pfeifle. ''He has the full support of the Interior Department and will be a great director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.''

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