Oregon's U.S. Attorney's Office Collects Almost $12 Million in Civil and Criminal Actions for U.S. Taxpayers in Fiscal Year 2014
PORTLAND, Ore. - U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall announced today that the District of Oregon collected $11,936,070.53 in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year 2014. Additionally, Oregon worked with other U.S. Attorneys’ offices and components of the Department of Justice to collect an additional $1,228,648.04 in cases pursued jointly with these offices.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on November 19 that the Justice Department collected $24.7 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014. The more than $24 billion in collections in FY 2014 represents more than eight times the appropriated $2.91 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the main litigating divisions in that same period.
“Every day, the Justice Department’s prosecutors and trial attorneys work hard to protect our citizens, to safeguard precious taxpayer resources, and to provide a valuable return on investment to the American people,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Their diligent efforts are enabling us to achieve justice and recoup losses in virtually every sector of the U.S. economy. And as a result, I can report today that – during Fiscal Year 2014 – the Justice Department collected a total of $24.7 billion in civil and criminal actions.”
“Recovering this money is a critical piece of the mission of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and reflects the hard work our office performs tracing assets and relentlessly following leads,” said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. “As our numbers show year after year, investing in our skilled investigators and prosecutors reaps enormous financial benefit to the taxpayers, to say nothing of helping to take the profit out of criminal activity in Oregon.”
Some of the cases involving significant collections activity in the past year have included:
- In the case of U.S. v. Rich, Phyllis and Michael Rich and their company, PAC Equities, were convicted of securities fraud back in 2007. The conviction resulted in a judgment for $13,400,138.79 in restitution to the more than 200 victims of their crime. In March 2014, the Financial Litigation Unit garnished $1,034,022.00 in insurance proceeds payable to Phyllis Rich after Michael Rich passed way. That garnishment---along with proceeds from sales of various real estate holdings and other collection efforts---has resulted in a total of over $9,000,000.00 in assets returned to victims of the fraud in the seven years since the convictions, providing just one example of how the U.S. Attorney’s Office continues its collection efforts on cases even years after a conviction.
- In U.S. v. Hossein Lahiji and Najmeh Vahid, a Texas attorney and her physician husband were convicted of a conspiracy to launder money and to defraud the U.S. Treasury by using a Portland-based charity to falsely claim charitable tax deductions on money that they wired to Iran in violation of the embargo. The Financial Litigation Unit collected forfeiture, restitution, and fines totaling $1,973,903 from the defendants.
- In U.S. v. Seaside Association, after the Forest Service’s Wallowa Mountains Office and Visitor Center burned to the ground, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed suit against the building’s owner, Seaside Association, for the negligence of its contractors in causing the fire by leaving combustible drop clothes, rags and tools on a porch on a hot day. The case settled for $1,401,000, all of which has been collected, with the majority of the settlement amount paid to the Wallowa Whitman Forest for the loss of its items in the building, the costs to relocate the facility as well as reimbursement to the employees for lost personal items.
- U.S. v. Cabello – On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, a Portland family---Archie Cabello, his wife Marian and son Vincent---were convicted of stealing $3 million from an armored car that Archie Cabello was driving in December 2005. Archie Cabello was convicted of additional crimes against armored car businesses and banks. The three were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,755,000 to the victims of their elaborate armored car theft scheme. During the investigation, over $1,995,000 of the stolen money was recovered from the Cabellos and forfeited. The Financial Litigation Unit facilitated the restoration of those forfeited fund to the victims of the crimes.
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 Oregon, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $2,885,771.00 in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2014. Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes. Of the $2,885,771.00 collected as part of asset forfeiture actions in the past fiscal year, $1,997,458.90 was applied to restitution to crime victims. “This provision of forfeited funds to victims of crime is a critical fact that has been largely ignored in recent negative national press reports regarding civil forfeiture actions,” said U.S. Attorney Marshall. “We cannot collect on victim restitution orders until after a defendant has been convicted and sentenced. By that point, it is usually too late to provide much financial relief to the defendant’s victims, as defendants have often hidden or transferred their remaining assets by that point. By contrast, our judicious use of civil asset forfeiture laws has allowed our office to move more quickly to secure those assets pending the resolution of a case, and to then restore those assets to the victims after the government has met its burden of proof.”