U.S. Attorney's Office Collects over $26.5 Million in Civil, Criminal Actions in 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – United States Attorney Tammy Dickinson announced today that the Western District of Missouri collected more than $26.5 million in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year 2013. Of this amount, more than $14.8 million was collected in criminal actions, more than $6.2 million was collected in civil actions and nearly $5.5 million was collected through the seizure of assets that were forfeited to the government.
The Western District of Missouri also worked with other U.S. Attorney’s Offices and components of the Department of Justice to collect an additional $10.6 million in cases pursued jointly with these offices, primarily in civil actions.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Justice Department collected approximately $8.1 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013. The more than $8 billion in collections in FY 2013 represents nearly three times the appropriated $2.76 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices and the main litigating divisions in that same period.
“The department’s enforcement actions help to not only ensure justice is served, but also deliver a valuable return to the taxpayer,” said Holder. “It is critical that Congress provide the resources necessary to match the department’s mounting caseload. As these figures show, supporting our federal prosecutors is a sound investment.”
“The pursuit of justice involves not only prosecuting criminals, but being diligent to collect the fines levied by the court and restitution payments on behalf of the victims of crime,” Dickinson said. “I am determined that criminals will not profit from their crimes, but will lose their ill-gained assets through forfeiture. And I am equally determined that those involved in civil actions must pay the government what they owe.
“Our office had a budget of $10.5 million in FY 2013 and collected more than $26.5 million that was owed to the court, to victims of crime and to the government,” Dickinson added. “By generating revenue of more than double our annual budget, taxpayers can be assured that we are efficiently allocating our budget resources to safeguard their interests.”
Nearly $15 million in civil and criminal debts was collected in the Western District of Missouri in 2012 and nearly $24 million was collected in 2011.
US v. Sheffler, et al. : $3.8 million
As an example of FY 2013 collections, an Independence, Mo., business owner and a Wichita, Kan., attorney were among 18 defendants indicted in a more than $17 million, multi-state conspiracy to transport hundreds of thousands of cartons of contraband cigarettes from the Kansas City, Mo., area to the state of New York, where they allegedly were sold primarily on Indian reservations. In addition to the federal indictment, an undercover operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives resulted in a $3.5 million civil forfeiture and a non-prosecution agreement that requires a Winnebago, Neb. company to pay a $300,000 penalty.
Following the seizures that occurred as a result of the investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office started a civil forfeiture case naming the assets taken up to that point. On Oct. 23, 2012, the court entered a default order of forfeiture for more than $2 million seized from bank accounts and by agents, more than 300 cases of seized cigarettes, a 2009 Cessna T206H Stationair aircraft, two 2012 Peterbilt 389 trucks and two 2012 Peterbilt 386 trucks. The seized cigarettes have been sold at auction for $532,500. The 2009 Cessna Aircraft has been sold for $450,000. The four trucks have been sold for the following amounts: $115,000; $115,000; $113,000; and $113,000. The civil case has been stayed pending the resolution of the criminal case.
Illegal Online Gambling: $921,416
As a result of a nationwide federal investigation into illegal online gambling, $921,416 was seized from the bank accounts of Integration, Inc., of Enfield, Conn.; The Club Services of Las Vegas, Nev.; Triple Beam Media of Williamsville, N.Y.; and Ontario Limited/Aramor Payments of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Integration operates as a third party processor involved in, among other things, the distribution of commercial rebate checks. Investigation determined that Integration also facilitated the distribution of winnings obtained through on-line Internet gambling Web sites such as Bodog Poker. Bank records for Integration indicated the company made disbursements, on behalf of Triple Beam Media, a shell corporation, to 8,753 residents of the United States, including 252 Missouri residents and 105 individuals who resided in the Western District of Missouri.
Under federal statutes, processing wires and mailing checks that represent the funds derived from illegal gambling constitutes money laundering. The transmission of gambling information constitutes a “specified unlawful activity” under the money laundering statutes. Any property involved in a money laundering transaction is subject to forfeiture to the government. Processing wires and mailing checks that represent the funds derived from illegal gambling also violates federal law regarding unlicensed money transmitting businesses.
Mario Escutia: $492,865
Law enforcement officers seized $492,865 that was found hidden in a Freightliner tractor and trailer driven by Mario Nambo Escutia, an owner-operator from California, during a routine inspection and compliance check at the commercial vehicle scales on Interstate 44 in Joplin, Mo. A drug-sniffing dog gave a positive indication for the presence of the odor of controlled substances from the money as well as inside the truck, but no controlled substances were found. Escutia was not prosecuted criminally, but the government filed a complaint for civil forfeiture against the money that was seized.
The money was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance, or it was proceeds traceable to such an exchange, or it was used or intended to be used to facilitate a drug-trafficking violation. As a result, the money is liable to condemnation and to forfeiture to the government.
US v. Arnold: $207,817
Jesse Arnold of Sarcoxie, Mo., forfeited $207,817 that was seized from his business bank account. He was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison without parole for structuring financial transactions in order to evade federal reporting requirements as part of a scheme to sell stolen cooking oil that was intended for recycling. Arnold operated 4 States Grease Company, a collection facility for spent cooking oil. He admitted that he had reason to believe he was buying spent cooking oil that had been stolen by various drivers. In order to avoid federal reporting requirements that could bring unwanted scrutiny to 4 States, Arnold deliberately and knowingly structured withdrawals from his business checking account. Arnold withdrew some or most of the money in order to purchase the stolen spent cooking oil. Arnold made numerous withdrawals on consecutive days that were individually less than $10,000, but which totaled more than $10,000 when added together. Under federal law, banks must file a currency transaction report for any financial transaction over $10,000. The crime of structuring occurs when a person, in order to knowingly avoid the financial institution from filing a currency transaction report, breaks up the transaction into smaller components that are less than $10,000.
US v. David W. Scott: $182,617
David W. Scott pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to distribute K2 (synthetic marijuana) and forfeited to the government $182,617 that was received in exchange for the distribution of K2. Scott owned and operated Country Express in Mountain Grove, Mo., which distributed K2. The money was seized by law enforcement officers who discovered it during a search of Scott’s Lincoln Navigator. Officers also seized hundreds of packages of K2 from Scott’s store, vehicle and residence, and thousands of packages of K2 from a storage unit.
The Western District of Missouri collected $26,575,724 in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year 2013. Of this amount, $14,823,396 was collected in criminal actions (such as fines and victim restitution), $6,283,214 was collected in civil actions, and $5,469,114 was collected in asset forfeiture actions.
(NOTE: Collection amounts released nationally by the Department of Justice today report $4,819,346 in forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund, which are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes. An additional $649,768 in asset forfeitures was collected for the Department of Treasury, for total asset forfeiture collections in the Western District of Missouri of $5,469,114.)
The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, along with the Justice 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.