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National Crime Victim's right week 30 years: Restoring the balance of Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2014

       BUFFALO, N.Y.—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York is commemorating National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. The week of April 6-12 commemorates our nation’s progress in advancing victims’ rights. This year’s theme—30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice—celebrates three decades of defending victims’ rights.

“As the chief law enforcement office in the Western District of New York, it is our job to enforce federal laws and bring criminals to justice,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. “While we will continue to focus on solving crime, we need be mindful that victims of crime often continue to suffer long after the jailhouse doors have been closed on the perpetrator. This week serves as an opportunity to commemorate victims nationwide, and to also give thanks for all who work on behalf of the oppressed and mistreated.”

In 1984, Congress passed the bipartisan Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which created a national fund to ease victims’ suffering.  Financed, not by taxpayers, but by fines and penalties paid by offenders, the Crime Victims Fund supports victim services, such as rape crisis and domestic violence programs and victim compensation programs that pay many of victims’ out-of-pocket expenses from the crime, such as counseling, funeral expenses, and lost wages.

The nation has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections, and services for victims in other ways as well. Every state has enacted victims’ rights laws and all have victim compensation programs. More than 10,000 victim service agencies now help people throughout the country.

The following are examples of cases prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the last year which benefit victims of crime:

U.S. v TONAWANDA COKE

The Tonawanda Coke Corporation, which was convicted of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by a federal jury in March 2013, was sentenced to pay a $12.5 million fine and five years probation. Tonawanda Coke also must pay $12.2 million to fund two environmental studies to help determine the extent of health and environmental impacts Tonawanda Coke has had in the community. In addition, Tonawanda Coke Environmental Control Manager, Mark L. Kamholz, 66, of West Seneca, N.Y., who was convicted of 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act, one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, was sentenced to 12 months in prison and a $20,000 fine.

U.S. v ZAVERI

Ashvin Zaveri of Honeoye Falls, N.Y. was indicted on 16 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Zaveri was specifically accused of defrauding investors who had invested approximately $35,000,000 in oil and natural gas exploration partnerships in Tennessee and Kentucky through his company Zaveri Oil & Gas, Ltd. The defendant died on August 27, 2010, a week before his plea was scheduled and the criminal case was abated.  Nevertheless, the government was able to recover $8,938,322.93, most of which was returned to victims.

U.S. v GIZZI

John P. Gizzi was convicted of filing false tax returns in 2008 and 2009. In addition, a corporation owned by Gizzi, Rochester Machinery Suppliers, Inc., was convicted of aiding and abetting the preparation of a false tax return. The defendant paid a total of $11,525,064 to the Government as fines and restitution in this case. 

In addition to successful prosecutions in the courtroom, the Western District of New York collected $75,146,101 in criminal and civil actions and provided assistance to over 50,000 victims in Fiscal Year 2013. Criminal actions, which include fines and restitution, totaled $20,142,677.26, $20,004,017 of which was returned to victims of crime. The Office also collected $55,003,424 in civil actions, which include proceedings involving health care fraud, government fraud, foreclosures and more. These collections highlight the daily effort by our Office to ensure that victims are heard by the court and receive the restitution to which they are entitled.

In addition to these significant financial recoveries, the Office also helped numerous victims of crime as a result of multiple successful prosecutions involving violent crime, human trafficking, fraud, identity theft and more.