News and Press Releases

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE STEPS UP DEBT COLLECTION EFFORTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2010

Spokane – Today, Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that financial collections by the Department of Justice in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 reached an all-time high due to the efforts of the U.S. Attorneys' offices nationwide. The ninety-four U.S. Attorneys' offices nation-wide contributed to the collection of $6.68 billion during the government's fiscal year. This amount is the most successful collection year by the U.S. Attorneys' offices.

According to statistics from the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Washington collected $6,811,186 in FY 2010. Of this amount, $565,487 was collected in criminal actions and $2,522,824 was collected in civil actions. The office also collected $3,722,875 in criminal and civil forfeitures.

United States Attorney, Michael C. Ormsby said, "Most people view the United States Attorney's Office as purely for criminal prosecution. While that is a large part of what we do, we are also engaged in collecting money owed to the United States government and victims of criminal enterprises. Additionally, money we collect from civil and criminal forfeitures are shared with state and local agencies to enhance their investigative capacities. During this past year, we collected more money from these efforts than was budgeted to directly operate this office. We will continue this effort to hold accountable those who refuse to make their payments to government agencies and to also hold accountable those who profit from their illegal activities.

The U.S. Attorneys' offices are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. Statistics from the Department of Justice indicate that the total amount collected in criminal actions totaled $2.84 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 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.

Additionally, the U.S. Attorneys' offices contributed to the collection of $1.8 billion in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2010. Forfeited assets are deposited into either the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund or the Department of Treasury Forfeiture Fund and are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.

The 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 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.
The nationwide collection totals for FY 2010 represent nearly a 30% increase in criminal collections and 57% increase in civil collections over FY 2009. In FY 2009, the U.S. Attorneys' offices contributed to the collection of more than $4.6 billion. Of the amount collected, $2.23 billion was collected criminally and $2.44 billion was collected civilly. The significant increase in collections was due to various large criminal restitution cases as well as large health care fraud cases.

For further information, the United States Attorneys' Annual Statistical Reports through FY 2009 can be found on the internet at http://www.justice.gov/usao/reading_room/foiamanuals.html.

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