Utah U. S. Attorney’s Office Collects $4,335,105.35 Through Civil and Criminal Actions in Fiscal Year 2014
SALT LAKE CITY - Acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen announced Wednesday that the District of Utah collected $4,335,105.35 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 related to criminal and civil actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014. Of this amount, $1,593,778.34 was collected in criminal actions and $2,741,327.01 was collected in civil actions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States and restitution owed to federal crime victims. The District of Utah also worked with other U.S. Attorneys’ offices and components of the Department of Justice to collect an additional $3,432.187.83 in cases pursued jointly with these offices.
One of the largest collections in Utah this year came as a part of a civil settlement with Okland Construction Co., who agreed to pay the government $928,000 to resolve allegations that it made false statements and submitted false claims under the Small Business Administration’s Section 8(a) Program for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses. Okland Construction, a large construction company, entered into a mentor-protégé agreement with Saiz Construction, a participant in the 8(a) program. The government alleged that Okland had not formed a qualifying joint venture with Saiz, and as a result, had fraudulently obtained access to contracts set aside for small businesses.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $11,871,702 in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2014, which is used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes. The office also paid $1,650,252 in forfeited funds to crime victims for restitution and shared $566,684 with local law enforcement agencies who participated in the prosecution of federal cases. Asset forfeiture is an effective deterrent to crime and is used to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that attempt to profit from their unlawful activity and to restore property to crime victims.
“Financial recoveries are a critical part of the Department’s mission to hold those who violate the law accountable for the injury they cause to crime victims and the general public. This office takes that responsibility very seriously and will continue to aggressively pursue compensation from those who commit crimes and civil wrongs to ensure that the wrongdoers – not the public – bear the costs of unlawful conduct here in Utah,” Acting U.S. Attorney Christensen said today.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department collected $24.7 billion in civil and criminal actions in FY 2014. This figure represents nearly eight-and- a-half times the appropriated $2.91 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the main litigating divisions of the Justice Department combined in that same period. The amount is more than three times the $8 billion collected in FY 2013.
“Every day, the Justice Department’s federal 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 Holder. “Their diligent efforts are enabling us to achieve justice and recoup losses in virtually every sector of the U.S. economy. And it shows the fruits of the Justice Department’s tireless work in enforcing federal laws; in protecting the American people from violent crime, national security threats, discrimination, exploitation, and abuse; and in holding financial institutions accountable for their roles in causing the 2008 financial crisis.”
U.S. Attorneys’ offices, along with Department of Justice litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States 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 a financial loss. While restitution is paid directly 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 come from affirmative civil enforcements cases, in which the United States recovered government money lost to fraud, fire recovery, or other misconduct or collected fines imposed on individuals or corporations for violations of federal health, safety, civil rights or environmental laws. In addition, civil debts are collected on behalf of 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.
The largest single source of collections came from civil penalties paid by financial institutions to resolve financial fraud claims stemming from the 2008 financial crisis, including significant amounts paid by JPMorgan and Citigroup Inc, to resolve federal and state civil claims related to the packaging, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). Both resolutions include record penalties under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) and in addition, also provide billions of dollars of relief to struggling homeowners.