U.S. Attorney Announces Office Collects Over $13 Million
BOISE – United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that her office's Financial Litigation Unit collected more than $12.25 million in civil debts and criminal fines, assessments, and restitution for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2016. U.S. Attorney Olson stated that the Financial Litigation Unit collected $1,584,902.42 in criminal fines, assessments, and restitution, and $10,671,716.97 in civil debts. In addition, the Asset Forfeiture Unit collected approximately $1,195,121 representing proceeds and instruments of crime in both criminal and civil forfeitures.
“The more than $13 million our staff collected through civil debts, asset forfeiture, fines, assessments and restitution exceeds the U.S. Attorney's Office's annual operational budget,” said Olson. “Our collection and asset forfeiture staffs 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. They also ensure that those who have profited from committing crimes in the District of Idaho are deprived of the proceeds and tools of their crimes. This year, all of these dedicated individuals have 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 2016, the office collected over $10.67 million in civil debt. Of that, the office collected $9 million for fraudulent procurement of government contracts and collected $1.2 million from EPA violations concerning release of hazardous substances. This includes violations by J.R. Simplot Company, Owyhee Construction, Inc. and Riverside Water & Sewer District. It also collected an FCC civil forfeiture penalty of $25,000 from Pacific Empire Radio Corp. in Lewiston for failure to provide adequate public inspection files for their radio stations.
In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collected approximately $90,831 in defaulted student loans, $193,000 in fire suppression costs for human-caused fires, and $80,388.38 in health care fraud related cases.
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 2016, the U.S. Attorney's Office, through the Financial Litigation Unit, collected over $1.4 million in criminal restitution that 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.
During the fiscal year, some notable criminal restitution collections include Asset Forfeiture’s restoration of Lois Davis’s tithing originally paid to her church in the amount of $222,607 to go towards restitution for the benefit of victims; $75,000 from Melody Redondo related to mortgage fraud; and an asset worth over $150,000 from William Roger Wilkinson.
Notable recoveries of the proceeds of crime through asset forfeiture include forfeitures in two multi-state drug trafficking and money laundering cases in North Idaho, and a number of fraud and other cases. Those other cases include recovery of $222,607 which was restored to victims in an Eastern Idaho investment fraud case; $94,412 forfeited in a Boise-based investment fraud case; $86,126 recovered from a Central Idaho bank robbery case; $75,000 recovered from an illegal gambling operation in Ada and Canyon Counties; and $178,152 recovered in an organic seed fraud case. Approximately $1.32 million in drug trafficking proceeds of crime were recovered in these cases.