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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office collects more than $10 million in civil, criminal, asset forfeiture actions in FY2015

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

SHREVEPORT/LAFAYETTE/ALEXANDRIA/LAKE CHARLES/MONROE, La. -  United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana collected $10,649,919 through civil, criminal and asset forfeiture actions in Fiscal Year 2015.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office collected $6,575,973 in criminal actions and $1,171,467 was collected in civil actions. Working with various other offices and components of the Department of Justice, the Western District of Louisiana collected an additional $1,352,659.The U.S. Attorney’s Office also worked with its partner agencies and divisions to collect $1,549,819 in asset forfeiture actions in FY2015. 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.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced last week that the Justice Department collected $22.9 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015. The more than $22.9 billion in collections in FY2015 represents more than seven and a half times the approximately $2.93 billion of the Justice Department’s combined appropriations for the 93 U.S. Attorney’s offices and the main litigating division in that same period.

Included in the FY2015 criminal collections for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Louisiana, is $1.5 million collected from Gulfport Energy Corporation. Gulfport Energy was charged with violating the Clean Water Act by discharging polluted water into Cote Blanche Bay from June 2011 until March 2012. The company pleaded guilty to one count of negligent discharge of pollutants into navigable waterways. Gulfport paid $1.125 million fine for violating the Clean Water Act and $375,000 in community service projects.

Also included in the FY2015 collections is $1.25 million paid by Arkla Disposal Services.  The United States and the State of Louisiana filed suit against Arkla Disposal and related entities alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act’s National Emissions Standard for Benzene Waste Operations and the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act at the Arkla’s facility in Shreveport.  Arkla paid a total of $2.5 million to the United States and the State of Louisiana to settle the lawsuit.

One of the significant civil recoveries for the Western District of Louisiana in FY2015 was $650,000 collected from Dr. Mehmood Patel and his entities, Acadiana Cardiology LLC and Acadiana Cardiovascular Center LLC. This collection resulted from the settlement of a qui tam action that alleged Mehmood Patel, a cardiologist, performed unnecessary cardiovascular and other endovascular interventional procedures at two hospitals and at a cardiac catheterization lab located in his private medical office. 

Of the total amount collected by the District in FY15, $1,177,576.29 was collected through garnishment proceedings commenced by the district’s Financial Litigation Unit (FLU). The significant increase collected through garnishment proceedings is due in part to the garnishment of various financial interests of debtors including retirement accounts, life insurance policies, wages and other financial accounts as well as the aggressive collection activity handled by the FLU. The largest recovery resulting from a garnishment proceeding in FY15 occurred in United States v. Bunnie Morris.  In August 2014, Morris pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344 and was sentenced to 29 months in prison and were ordered to pay $337,050.32 in restitution. After the district instituted garnishment proceedings, $266,957.70 was recovered in garnished assets owned by the defendant and payments from Morris which satisfied the balance of the restitution debt.

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.

“The Department of Justice is committed to upholding the rule of law, safeguarding taxpayer resources and protecting the American people from exploitation and abuse,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “The collections we are announcing today demonstrate not only the strength of that commitment, but also the significant return on public investment that our actions deliver.  I want to thank the prosecutors and trial attorneys who made this achievement possible, and to reiterate our dedication to this ongoing work.”

“We remain dedicated to protecting the public and vigorously pursuing funds that rightfully belong to the U.S. taxpayers,” stated U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley. “Our office will continue to hold people accountable and seek compensation for victims of federal crimes. I congratulate my staff for their hard work.”

Updated December 14, 2015