Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office Joins In Collections Of Over $100 Million In Civil And Criminal Actions And Asset Forfeiture In Fiscal Year 2013
DENVER -- U.S. Attorney John Walsh announced today that in Fiscal Year 2013 the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado collected a total of $94,388,632.41 for the United States, composed of collections by the Office independently in Colorado and collections obtained jointly with other offices and Department of Justice components. Of the total, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado collected $85,344,392.38 in important national level cases working with other U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Department of Justice, some of which are described below, and collected $9,044,240.03 independently in criminal and civil actions in Colorado. Of the Colorado-specific collections, $6,887,564.95 was collected in criminal actions and $2,156,675.08 was collected in civil actions. In addition to these substantial funds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also collected $7,634,919.00 in asset forfeiture actions in Fiscal Year 2013. Total collections joined by the Colorado office and others in Fiscal Year 2013 exceeded $100 million, more than 6 ½ times the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s budget for Fiscal Year 2013, $15,414,747.00.
Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that the Justice Department collected approximately $8.1 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. The more than $8 billion in collections in FY 2013 represents over three times the appropriated $2.76 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices and the main litigating divisions in that same period.
“The department’s enforcement actions help to not only ensure justice is served, but also deliver a valuable return to the American people,” said Attorney General Holder. “It is critical that Congress provide the resources necessary to match the department’s mounting caseload. As these figures show, supporting our federal prosecutors is a sound investment.”
“In addition to the many millions of dollars that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado collects year-in and year-out on our regular caseload, this office has taken the lead in national-level cases, working with other U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. In Fiscal Year 2013 alone, our overall efforts resulted in the collection of over one hundred million dollars,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “This is critical work on behalf of the taxpayers, who have reason to be proud of the efforts of our Colorado team on behalf of both Colorado and the entire country. Every year, this office is responsible for collecting far more money for the United States taxpayer than our own annual budget.”
Two national cases deserve emphasis. The Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office, working with colleagues in the Eastern District of New York, the Southern District of Florida and the Eastern District of Michigan, resolved an action for civil penalties against Walgreens Pharmacies for its repeated violations of the Controlled Substances Act. Certain Walgreen stores repeatedly filled bogus prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers that they knew or should have known had no legitimate medical purpose. In addition, the office also worked with the Department of Justice’s Civil Division and other agencies to resolve allegations that NEK Advanced Securities, Inc. was overcharging for their work to develop and deploy teams of specialized personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat improvised explosive devices.
In cases brought solely by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado, several have been notable. Shawn Merriman operated an investment fraud scheme for over 14 years. The Postal Inspection Service investigated the fraud scheme, determining that Merriman defrauded victim investors of over $20 million. In addition to criminal charges, the United States seized, forfeited and disposed of numerous assets belonging to Merriman. All of the assets were finally sold in 2013, and totaled $3,292,804.05 altogether. The United States was able to remit all of these funds to the victims in 2013.
In addition, in March 2013, Thomas Bader,one of the defendants involved in the College Pharmacy case, in which the defendant was illegally distributing human-growth hormone, was sentenced to 40 months in prison. In addition to his prison sentence, the Court entered a Final Order of Forfeiture, forfeiting to the United States a commercial building worth approximately $2 million, as well as ten other real properties. The Court had previously entered a $4.7 million money judgment against Mr. Bader. In fiscal year 2013, the United States collected $1,242,100.00 in the College Pharmacy case. Additional assets continue to be sold and liquidated. The United States is expecting at least an additional $2 million this next fiscal year.
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. 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.
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, Small Business Administration and Department of Education.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $7,634,919.00 in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2013. Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Treasury Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.