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Over $41M Collected for Victims in 2012, US Attorney Says

Some of the most substantial forfeitures of assets include two airplanes and more than $1 million cash in the drug trafficking investigation dubbed “Operation Bad Altitude;” and the collection of $2.1 million for 112 metric tons of King Crab that had be

U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan announced this week that the Western District of Washington collected more than $41 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 related to criminal and civil actions. 

Of this amount, $8,984,768 was collected in criminal actions, $17,281,623 was collected in civil actions, and $15 million was collected in criminal and civil forfeitures. Nationwide, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $13.1 billion in criminal and civil actions during FY 2012, more than doubling the $6.5 billion collected in FY 2011. A portion of this amount, $5.3 billion, was collected in shared cases in which one or more U.S. Attorneys’ offices or department litigating divisions were also involved.

The $13.1 billion represents more than six times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 offices for FY 2012.  

“I am proud of the hard work of this office, which has not only increased public safety, but has resulted in more than $41 million going to victims of crime or being returned to taxpayers. During this time of economic recovery, these collections are more important than ever,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “We will continue to aggressively seek to hold wrongdoers accountable and strip them of their ill-gotten gains.”

Over the past year the U.S. Attorney’s Office has collected substantial amounts of restitution for victims of crime: In U.S. v Weldon Marc Gilbert, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collected more than $1 million and paid the money into trusts for the 19 minor victims of Gilbert’s sexual abuse; in a series of cases against those selling untaxed cigarettes, the U.S. Attorney’s office collected more than $235,000 for the state of Washington; and in U.S. v Sandra Laverty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office returned to taxpayers more than $129,000 in veteran’s benefits that had been fraudulently collected after the death of the veteran.

Some of the most substantial forfeitures of assets include: the seizure of more than $5 million from an illegal money transmitting business related to internet gambling; the forfeiture of two airplanes and more than $1 million cash in the drug trafficking investigation dubbed “Operation Bad Altitude;” and the collection of $2.1 million for 112 metric tons of King Crab that had been imported in violation of the Lacey Act.

The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, along with the department’s litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the U.S. and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims.  Statistics indicate that the total amount collected in criminal actions totaled $3.035 billion in restitution, criminal fines, and felony assessments. 

The law requires defendants to pay restitution to victims of certain federal crimes who have suffered a physical injury or financial loss.  While restitution is paid directly to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the department’s Crime Victims’ Fund, which distributes the funds to state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.

The statistics also indicate that $10.12 billion was collected by the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in individually and jointly handled civil actions.  The largest civil collections were from affirmative civil enforcement cases, in which the United States recovered government money lost to fraud or other misconduct or collected fines imposed on individuals and/or corporations for violations of federal health, safety, civil rights or environmental laws. In addition, civil debts were collected on behalf of several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, and Small Business Administration.

Additionally, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $4.389 billion in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2012. Forfeited assets are deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund and Department of Treasury Forfeiture Fund and are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes. The $13.16 billion collected nationwide by the U.S. Attorneys’ offices for FY 2012 nearly matches the $13.18 billion collected in FY 2010 and FY 2011 combined.

The United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Reports can be found on the internet at http://www.justice.gov/usao/reading_room/foiamanuals.html.

(Ed. Note: The information above is from a U.S. Attorney's Office of Western Washington press release.)

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