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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

U.S. Attorney's Office collects over $6.5 million for taxpayers in Fiscal Year 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia has collected $6,668,404.52 in the last year, which represents over $1.1 million more than the office’s annual direct budget, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Of this amount, $1,511,417.96 was collected in criminal actions, $4,591,072.32 was collected in civil actions, and $565,914.24 was collected in asset forfeiture. The U.S. Attorney’s Office collected this amount through the efforts of the attorneys and staff within the office, and also by working with other U.S. Attorneys’ offices, components of the Department of Justice, and other federal agencies.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today that the Justice Department collected nearly $15.4 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016. The $15,380,130,434 in collections in FY 2016 represents more than five times the appropriated $2.93 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the main litigating divisions of the Justice Department combined in that same period.

“Every day, the men and women of the Department of Justice work tirelessly to enforce our laws, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used properly and that the American people are protected from exploitation and abuse,” said Attorney General Lynch. “Today’s announcement is a testament to that work, and it makes clear that our actions deliver a significant return on public investment. I want to thank the prosecutors and trial attorneys who made this year's collections possible, and I want to emphasize that the department remains committed to the well-being of our people and our nation.”

United States Attorney Carol Casto noted, “The over $6 million collected by this office more than covers the direct operating budget of the office for the entire fiscal year. The strong collaboration of the attorneys and staff of the civil and criminal divisions with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies makes these significant collections possible. Though our top priority is always ensuring the safety of our communities, we also work together with our law enforcement partners to hold wrongdoers responsible for the financial losses associated with their offenses.”

A substantial amount of the collection total came from the prosecution of Freedom Industries and six defendants associated with Freedom for the 2014 chemical spill that left hundreds of thousands of people in the Kanawha Valley without water for several days. Freedom paid nearly $600,000 to resolve its federal bankruptcy case. Additionally, the individuals prosecuted, including two former presidents of Freedom, have paid over $86,000 in fines as part of their sentences. Another corporate officer held accountable for criminal activity was former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Never before in U.S. history had the CEO of a publicly traded company been convicted of a workplace safety crime. His trial ended with a jury finding him guilty, and in April 2016, as part of his sentence, Blankenship was ordered to spend one year in federal prison and to pay a $250,000 fine.

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.

In addition to the civil and criminal collections, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $565,914.24 in asset forfeiture actions in fiscal year 2016. 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. This brings the total amount collected by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in fiscal year 2016 to $6,668,404.52. The fiscal year began on October 1, 2015, and ended on September 30, 2016.

Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Updated December 14, 2016