U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE COLLECTS $11 MILLION IN CIVIL & CRIMINAL DEBTS FOR 2010, PART OF $6.68 BILLION COLLECTED NATIONALLY
BIRMINGHAM – The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Alabama collected more than $11 million for federal government coffers in the 2010 fiscal year. It also used federal asset forfeiture law to take millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains from criminals and award $2.3 million to state and local law enforcement agencies, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.
The $11.2 million recovered for the government in the Northern District of Alabama is part of ongoing financial collections by the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in criminal and civil actions nationwide. The national collections reached $6.68 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The 2010 recoveries represent the highest annual collections by the nation’s 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices.
The U.S. Attorneys’ offices also contributed to the collection of $1.8 billion nationally in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2010, according to the Department of Justice.
The Northern District Office obtained court judgments totaling $26,449,062 in forfeited money and assets for the 2010 fiscal year, Vance said. It also provided the $2,295,776 to state and local law enforcement agencies to enhance their resources for fighting crime.
“U.S. Attorneys’ Offices prosecute violations of federal law. They also are charged with enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States, and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims,” Vance said. “The people in my office are true public servants who work hard and provide good value to the taxpayers in this District.” she said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is dedicated to protecting the public and recovering funds for the federal treasury and for victims of federal crime. We will continue to deny criminals the profits from their misdeeds.”
The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices bring in billions of dollars every year by collecting court-ordered fines and restitution in criminal cases; collecting debts, court judgments and penalties in civil cases; and by seizing property involved in criminal activity through asset forfeiture proceedings.
According to statistics from the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney s Office in Birmingham collected $11,228,492 in FY 2010. Of this amount, $6,218,950 was collected in criminal actions and $5,009,542 was collected in civil actions. Along with the $11.2 million the Northern District Office collected on its own, it also worked with other districts on cases that, jointly, brought an additional $99,438,029 back to the federal government.
The Financial Litigation Unit is the arm of the U.S. Attorney’s Office that collects the money owed to the federal government for both criminal and civil debt. The FLU in Birmingham, for example, has collected $29,295,009 over several years in restitution, fines and court fees from former commissioners, employees and contractors convicted of corruption in association with the Jefferson County sewer expansion, and is working to recover the remaining $13,739,159 owed in those cases.
The nationwide collections of restitution, criminal fines and felony assessments in criminal actions totaled $2.84 billion, according to Department of Justice Statistics.
The national statistics also indicate that $3.84 billion was collected in 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 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, Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, and Small Business Administration.
In the Northern District of Alabama, one civil action last year filed under the False Claims Act recovered almost $3 million. In a settlement with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the company paid the money to resolve allegations arising out of a dispute over fees charged on a contract with NASA after Pratt & Whitney merged with Rocketdyne in 2005.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit in the Birmingham office handles all criminal and civil forfeiture matters in the Northern District. Among notable awards last year through the Asset Forfeiture Equitable Sharing Program were: $947,850 to the Bessemer Police Department; $174,805 to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department; $128,873 to Limestone County Sheriff’s Department; $140,831 to the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners; $75,017 to the Birmingham Police Department; and $66,821 to the Hoover Police Department.
For further information on the collections by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Justice Department=s Annual Statistical Reports can be found on the internet at http://www.justice.gov/usao/reading_room/foiamanuals.html.