The Civil Division's mission is to protect the interests of the United States by defending against and pursuing claims for money damages and declaratory and injunctive relief in cases involving the entire spectrum of civil matters. Most often, the Division accomplishes its mission by litigating on behalf of the United States in state or federal court. However, the Division also routinely engages in attempting to resolve matters before they become litigation.
The Civil Division litigates defensive cases; provides affirmative representation on behalf of the United States in bankruptcy court in order to preserve and collect debts owed to the United States by persons or corporations who have filed for discharge or reorganization, to the extent permitted under the Bankruptcy Code.
The Division's affirmative caseload also includes: enforcement actions under the environmental statutes of the United States; civil rights and fair housing cases; cases under the False Claims Act and other statutes that authorize civil remedies and/or penalties for conduct committed in conjunction with the administration of federal programs; and collecting debts owed to the United States. Much of the Division's affirmative civil casework is handled under the Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) program or by the Division's Financial Litigation Unit (FLU).
The FLU's principal function is to collect debts owed to the United States by persons and/or corporations located within the District of Nevada. The FLU pursues, e.g., defaulted student loans; criminal fines, restitution orders and mandatory special assessments; civil fines and penalties; and any other financial obligation that has been reduced to judgment in favor of the United States. The FLU consists of full-time debt collection agents and attorneys who handle FLU cases as part of their caseload.
The ACE program in the District of Nevada consists of an ACE Coordinator and one attorney whose caseload include ACE matters. Within the ACE program, significant time and assets are devoted to pursuing civil remedies for Health Care Fraud. Civil ACE attorneys frequently work with their criminal counterparts in the investigation and pursuit of cases where federal health benefits programs have been defrauded by individuals or organizations. ACE attorneys also are part of the District's Health Care Fraud Task Force, which includes a variety of federal and state agencies involved in administering health care programs susceptible to fraud. Civil remedies can be and are pursued even in cases where criminal prosecution has been declined. Federal statutes authorize civil fines, treble damages, and the recovery of investigative costs as part of a civil health care fraud case. In addition to health care fraud, the ACE program also recovers significant amounts of money each year from persons who have otherwise engaged in program-related conduct that subjects them to civil fines and damages on behalf of the United States. These cases typically involve, e.g., fraudulent use of the mails, food stamp fraud; procurement fraud; HUD program violations; Farm Services program violations; financial institution fraud; and obtaining benefits improperly from the entire spectrum of federal agencies present and operating in the District. Quite literally, if someone has improperly obtained money from the United States, with or without fraudulent intent, the ACE program provides a means of recovering that money, and maybe more.
In addition to the affirmative and defensive casework already mentioned, the Civil Division also participates in a wide variety of other cases in which the United States has an interest in the District of Nevada. We monitor and often intervene in qui tam cases initiated by private citizens. We enforce compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. We participate in actions having to do with real property upon which the United States may have a lien or other protected interest. We also respond to or enforce summonses that require execution in the District, to the extent that the United States has an interest in the subject matter of the summons.
The Civil Division staff consists of eight attorneys, an auditor, four paralegals, two debt collection agents, and two legal secretaries.
The Forfeiture Section operates within the Civil Division and is responsible for the prosecution of criminal and civil forfeiture cases. In addition to litigating civil forfeiture cases, the Section provides support to Criminal Division AUSAs on all criminal forfeiture issues. The forfeiture AUSAs work with most of the federal law enforcement agencies, assisting their criminal investigations by identifying assets subject to forfeiture and developing evidence for seizure and forfeiture.