Our Civil Division comprises the defense of lawsuits against the United States or its employees, Affirmative Civil Enforcement ("ACE") cases seeking recovery of civil penalties and damages under the False Claims Act, as well as recovery of debts owed to the United States through the Financial Litigation Unit ("FLU") and asset forfeiture.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit is responsible for obtaining the forfeiture of both real and personal property that was either used in the commission of a crime or that was purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity. To obtain the forfeiture of assets, the Unit works with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to identify the assets of targets of criminal investigations, to seize or restrain the assets pending completion of the forfeiture, and to conduct any civil or criminal legal proceedings necessary to complete the forfeiture. To learn more about the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Program, please visit http://www.justice.gov/jmd/afp/.
The Financial Litigation Unit (FLU) is staffed with an Assistant U.S. Attorney, a Paralegal Specialist, an Auditor, and a Data Analyst contractor. Its mission is the collection of criminal and civil debts owing to the United States.
Criminal debts include fines, penalties and restitution ordered as part of sentencing judgments in federal criminal cases. These debts frequently involve high-dollar restitution judgments ordered to be paid to the victims of a convicted defendant's criminal activity. These victims may be private citizens or governmental agencies.
Civil debts owed to the United States include both pre-judgment and post-judgment liabilities. Frequently, civil debts arise from contractual relationships between federal agencies and non-federal entities and individuals, under which money is loaned by the federal agency and the borrower defaults in payment. Examples include student loans by the Department of Education, start-up loans to private entrepreneurs by the Small Business Administration, and farm and residential loans by the Department of Agriculture. Civil debts may also arise from overpayments by federal agencies under the various programs they administer, such as Medicare and Social Security, to individuals or entities not entitled to the funds. Other civil debts result from the imposition of civil penalties imposed by federal agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration and the Social Security Administration.
Once assets are located, liens may be placed on property, wages and bank accounts may be garnished, and property may be seized. In addition, the FLU conducts judgment debtor examinations and may offset funds owed to a debtor by the federal government, such as a debtor's federal income tax refund. Criminal debtors who are incarcerated may pay their debts by participating in the Bureau of Prisons' Inmate Financial Responsibility Program.
The FLU works closely with other federal agencies involved in the collection of federal debts. These include the United States Probation Office, the Clerk of the United States District Court, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture.