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U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE COLLECTS $176,562,550.65 IN CIVIL & CRIMINAL ACTIONS IN FY 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced today that the Southern District of Florida collected $176,562,550.65 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 related to criminal and civil actions. Of this amount, $18,916,938.94 was collected in criminal actions and $157,645,611.71 was collected in civil actions. Additionally, the office collected $42,685,014 in criminal and civil forfeitures.

Nationwide, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $6.5 billion in criminal and civil actions during FY 2011, surpassing $6 billion for the second consecutive year. A portion of this amount, $1.3 billion, was collected in shared cases in which one or more U.S. Attorneys’ offices or department litigating divisions were also involved. The $6.5 billion represents more than three times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 offices for FY 2011.

“During this time of economic recovery, these collections are more important than ever,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. “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 hold accountable those who seek to profit from their illegal activities.”

Ferrer noted that in one recent case, U.S. v. Carlos Benitez, et. al., the government expects to recover approximately $37.5 million in assets. Indeed, just this week, on November 14, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder joined Dominican Prosecutor General Radhamés Jiménez Peña in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to announce the signing of an 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. 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 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 this district. The Benitez brothers were charged criminally in June 2008 in the Southern District of Florida, and remain fugitives.

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 $2.66 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 $3.83 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 $1.68 billion in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2011. 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 nationwide collection totals for the U.S. Attorneys’ offices for FY 2010 and FY 2011 combined is $13.18 billion, which represents nearly a 52% increase over the FY 2008 and FY 2009 combined total of $8.55 billion.

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

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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