The Civil Division of the United States Attorney's Office represents the United States, its agencies, departments, and their officers in federal and state courts. The Civil Division is divided into three areas: Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE), Civil Defensive, and Financial Litigation.
Affirmative Litigation Section
The Affirmative Litigation Section consists primarily of the civil enforcement litigation and financial litigation.
Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE):
- Recovers damages for fraud and other misconduct against United States' agencies;
- Imposes civil penalties for violations of the nation's health, safety and economic welfare laws; and
- Uses the Fraud Injunction Statute to enjoin on-going mail, wire or bank frauds and freeze ill-gotten gains derived from those frauds.
The primary civil weapon against fraud is the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733. Enacted in 1863, the Act allows the United States to collect triple damages and civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per violation from persons who submit false or fraudulent claims for federal monies. This includes health care fraud, defense procurement fraud, workers' compensation fraud, and a variety of other frauds against the federal government.
The False Claims Act also allows citizens who have knowledge of fraud against the government to file a "qui tam" or "whistle blower" lawsuit in the name of the government. 31 U.S.C. § 3730. These complaints by individuals must first be filed under seal to allow the United States time to decide whether to join in the suit. The complaint must be served both on the United States Attorney General and the United States Attorney's Office. The whistle blower is also required to disclose to the government all material evidence supporting the allegations.
In addition to fraud cases, the ACE Unit also handles civil environmental cases, civil rights actions, cases involving HUD equity skimming, and cases involving violations of the DEA Controlled Substance statute.
If you have information regarding fraud, you may contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Inspector General for the agency affected, or contact the United States Attorney's Office at 502-582-5911.
The Financial Litigation Unit collects debts owed to the United States, its agencies, and victims of federal crimes. Federal law authorizes the use of foreclosures, garnishments, attachments, and other remedies.
Typical cases include:
- Fines, special assessments, restitution, costs, and penalties owed by criminal defendants
- Defaults on government loans (i.e. education, home improvement mortgage, Small Business Administration)
- Overpayments made by the United States under various government programs such as Social Security, veterans' benefits and Medicare.
- Debts owed by to the United States by debtors in bankruptcy (i.e. taxes owed to the IRS)
- Monies owed to the United States as a result of successful civil fraud prosecutions (such as health care fraud and procurement fraud)
- Environmental fines and penalties
The Civil Defensive Section represents the United States in cases involving claims against the United States, its agencies, officers and employees. Typical cases include personal injuries, medical malpractice, employment discrimination, immigration matters, challenges to federal agency actions, social security claims, constitutional claims against federal officers and employees, and other constitutional claims.
This section also represents federal agencies and their employees in cases involving third party subpoenas. Virtually every federal agency has regulations governing the issuance of subpoenas to the agency and its employees. Third parties subpoenaing these agencies must go through the procedures established by the agency's regulations.