The Monetary Penalties Unit is responsible for the prosecution of criminal and civil forfeiture cases and for collecting debts owed to the United States, including restitution for victims of crime, criminal fines and debts to federal government agencies. In fiscal year 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office collected more than $15 million in victim restitution, fines, and civil debt (read the press release).
The U.S. Attorney's office is 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 financial loss. While restitution is paid to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the Justice Department’s Crime Victims’ Fund, which distributes the funds to state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.
The overwhelming majority of the civil collection work involves filing suit to obtain judgments on defaulted government loans such as student loans, farm loans or mortgages guaranteed by a federal agency, and then collecting those judgments. The unit also collects judgments and settlements owed to the United States as a result of successful Affirmative Civil Enforcement cases. Criminal debts arise when defendants are sentenced by the court. These debts may be in the form of restitution to victims of crime, fines imposed by the court to penalize criminals, special assessments on each criminal conviction count, costs of prosecution and other costs, and forfeitures of appearance bonds.
Forfeiture AUSAs (Assistant United States Attorneys) work with federal law enforcement agencies, assisting their criminal investigations by identifying assets subject to forfeiture and developing evidence for seizure and forfeiture. The goal of the forfeiture program is to apply forfeiture to the infrastructure of criminal enterprises, limiting the ability of these organizations to continue their illegal activities. Measurable damage can be inflicted upon drug cartels, criminal syndicates and terrorist organizations by removing the assets that facilitate their criminal activities and minimizing any profit incentive.
Another primary goal of the forfeiture program is the identification and recovery of assets in cases with victims of fraud and other financial crimes. In appropriate cases, assets obtained by the United States through asset forfeiture can be provided for restitution to crime victims.
To contact the Monetary Penalties Unit, call 1-800-733-6558, or locally in Kansas City call 816-426-3122.