U.S. Attorney Announces Office Collected Over $100 Million
BOISE – United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that her office's Financial Litigation Unit collected more than $100 million in civil debts and in criminal fines, assessments and restitution for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2014. U.S. Attorney Olson stated that the Financial Litigation Unit collected $11,469,290 in criminal fines, assessments, and restitution, and $86,151,947 in civil debts. In addition, the Asset Forfeiture Unit collected approximately $4.6 million of proceeds of crime from convicted criminals.
“The more than $100 million our staff collected through civil debts, asset forfeiture, fines, assessments and restitution is more than ten times the U.S. Attorney's Office's operational budget,” said Olson. “Our dedicated collection staff of attorneys, paralegals, analysts and fiscal agents ensure that those who owe the federal government money as a result of litigation in this district or as a result of longtime debt, such as student loans, make appropriate payments. Our asset forfeiture staff likewise works efficiently to deprive criminals of the profits of their crimes. This year, they have all done outstanding work and served this office, taxpayers and the federal government well.”
The Financial Litigation Unit collects civil penalties for violations of regulations involving, among other things, controlled substances, environmental protection, damage to federal property, and procurement fraud. It also collects civil debts for defaulted student loans and defaulted federally financed mortgages, working with debtors to arrange viable payment plans. During fiscal year 2014, the office collected over $86 million in civil debt. Of that, the office collected $85.8 million from EPA violations concerning release of hazardous substances. This includes the final payments from Hecla Mining Company as part of the settlement reached September 8, 2011, resolving claims stemming back to the 1980s for cleanup costs from releases of wastes from Hecla’s mining operations. Hecla has paid the United States a total of $189,345,889.42. The settlement, which also included payments to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the State of Idaho, totaled $263.4 million plus interest. Payments were made through a structured settlement, with the final payment being due August 15, 2014. This was one of the largest cases ever filed under the Superfund statute. The settlement funds were dedicated to restoration and remediation of natural resources in the Coeur d’Alene Basin.
The U.S. Attorney’s office also collected approximately $89,891 in defaulted student loans and $168,596 in fire suppression costs for human-caused fires.
From convicted criminals, the U.S. Attorney's Office collects fines, assessments, restitution, and asset forfeitures. Victims of crime receive funds collected in criminal restitution cases. In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Attorney's Office collected over $6 million in criminal restitution which was distributed to victims of crime. Other criminal collections such as fines go into the Crime Victims Fund. From there, funds are distributed to the Idaho Crime Victims Compensation Program, the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance, and similar programs across the country. Money recovered from the illegal proceeds of criminal activity through forfeiture is returned to victims, used to offset the costs of operating federal prisons, and shared with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to help fight crime. Other recoveries go back to agency creditors.
On March 4, 2014, the United States District Court sentenced Elaine Martin for tax fraud and ordered her to pay $156,578.57 in restitution. The United States Attorney’s Office collected the full amount. Garth Callaghan was sentenced on July 30, 2012, for failing to pay employment taxes to the IRS. His criminal judgment imposed $177,096 in federal restitution. The United States Attorney’s Office collected the full amount during the past fiscal year. As a result of his schemes to defraud retirement plans, Matthew Hutcheson was tried and convicted of seventeen counts of wire fraud on April 15, 2013, and sentenced on July 7, 2013. His criminal judgment imposed $5,307,688.00 in restitution with interest. Collections to date total over $14,000 and will be distributed to individual victims pending the final appeal order. Further collection efforts are under way.