SANTO DOMINGO – Attorney General Eric Holder joined today with Dominican Prosecutor General Radhamés Jiménez Peña in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to announce the signing of a case-specific agreement to share approximately $7.5 million in forfeited assets between the United States and the Dominican Office of the Prosecutor General. The United States expects to recover an additional approximately $30 million in forfeited assets as part of the agreement.
“Today’s signing ceremony marks the fourth time in 10 years that America’s government has recognized – through asset sharing – the remarkable forfeiture assistance that Dominican authorities have afforded to the United States,” Attorney General Holder said. “As we look to the future, I am confident that we’ll be able to build on this strong record of partnership, and that the scope of our collective efforts will only continue to grow.”
The agreement represents approximately 20 percent of the estimated $37.5 million in forfeited assets located in the Dominican Republic that stem from a conspiracy led by brothers Carlos, Luis and Jose Benitez, who allegedly defrauded the U.S. Medicare program of approximately $80 million.
The U.S. Marshals Service is working with its Dominican counterparts to liquidate the complex assets. The assets include more than 30 commercial and residential real estate assets, most of which are income-producing properties, including a water park, a soft drink distribution center, multi-unit motel complexes and waterfront condominium apartments.
The assets involved were ordered forfeited by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida as part of two civil forfeiture cases filed in that district. The Benitez brothers were charged criminally in June 2008 in the Southern District of Florida by prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and remain fugitives. Anyone with information about their location should contact the FBI.
The asset sharing between the United States and the Dominican Republic in this case is based upon the dedicated assistance provided since August 2009 by the Dominican Office of the Prosecutor General. Under the leadership of Prosecutor General Jiménez, the Dominican Office of the Prosecutor General has provided invaluable assistance to U.S. authorities in connection with the civil forfeiture cases in the United States stemming from the Benitez brothers investigation.
Additional information on the case-specific agreement can be found at www.blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/1743.