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Press Release

Oregon U.S. Attorney's Office Collects Nearly $24 Million in Civil and Criminal Actions for U.S. Taxpayers in Fiscal Year 2017

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

PORTLAND – U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that the District of Oregon collected $21,705,595 in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year 2017. Of this amount, $8,066,251 was collected in criminal actions and $13,639,344 in civil actions.


Additionally, the District of Oregon worked with other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Justice Department components and partner agencies to collect $575,775 in joint criminal and civil actions and $1,540,289 in asset forfeitures, bringing Oregon’s total to nearly $24 million. Forfeited assets deposited into the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund are used to assist crime victims and for a variety of other law enforcement purposes.


Overall, the Justice Department collected more than $15 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2017.


“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the District of Oregon’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division and our partner agencies, funds recovered in the past fiscal year far exceed our office’s annual operating budget,” said Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Our staff is dedicated to holding accountable those who seek to profit from illegal activities and will continue aggressively pursuing financial compensation for victims of crimes, and protecting government programs from exploitation and abuse.”


One example of the district’s recent restitution collection efforts was in a series of cases brought against members of the Desmarais family who owned and operated eight strip clubs and two adult video stores in the Portland metropolitan area. The family used these businesses as a front for the largest prostitution enterprise ever prosecuted in Oregon. The family collected cash every time a stripper engaged in an act of prostitution with a customer from 2006 through 2010, evading $728,165 in income taxes due on $2.6 million in unreported prostitution income. The four most culpable family members pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and running a prostitution business. They were ordered to pay the IRS $728,165 in restitution and agreed to forfeit an additional $843,517 in cash seized during the execution of search warrants.


Another example comes from a case stemming from a July 28, 2009 fire in the Umpqua National Forest in southern Oregon known as the Williams Creek Fire. The Williams Creek Fire burned approximately 8,395 acres, most of which were National Forest System lands within the Umpqua National Forest. The fire caused the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to incur suppression, resource damages, and rehabilitation costs totaling over $16 million. An investigation concluded that the fire was caused by a power line fault occurring on a utility right of way owned, managed and controlled by PacifiCorp. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed an action on behalf of the USDA seeking to recover the costs incurred by the U.S. related to the fire and ultimately collected $13 million.


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.

Updated January 24, 2018