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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Western District Of Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office Collects $14.4 Million in Civil and Criminal Actions for U.S. Taxpayers in Fiscal Year 2016.

An additional $8.5 Million Collected in Asset Forfeiture to aid Crime Victims and support Law Enforcement Programs

          Seattle - U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes announced today that the Western District of Washington collected $14.4 million in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016.  Of this amount, $8.9 was collected in criminal actions and $5.4 million was collected in civil actions

          Additionally, the Western District of Washington worked with other U.S. Attorney’s Offices and components of the Department of Justice to collect an additional $12.4 million in cases pursued jointly with these offices.  Virtually all of these funds were collected in civil actions.

          “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is working for taxpayers every day ensuring that monies belonging to them are returned to government coffers,” said U. S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “The collections this year include funds obtained in cases involving healthcare, aviation and government contracting fraud, and pursuant to criminal authorities focused on taking the profit out of crime.  Along with all the other work done by the office, these collections are testament to the hard work of lawyers and support staff dedicated to their public service mission.”             

          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 September 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.”

          Among the cases with significant collections are: a $3 million payment by Spiracur, Inc. to settle allegations the Sunnyvale, California medical device maker improperly compensated podiatrists at Veterans Affairs facilities to promote use if its products; a $2.8 million payment from Southwest Airlines to resolve allegations the airline violated FAA safety regulations in its maintenance of Boeing 737 aircraft; and a $1.4 million payment in U.S. v Gottfriedson – a counterfeit cigarette trafficking case.

            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.

            Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Western District of Washington, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $8.5 million in asset forfeiture actions in FY 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.

            The prosecution of a sophisticated drug ring, and the investigation of food stamp trafficking led to the largest forfeiture matters in fiscal 2016.  In U.S. v. Gilberto Salazar Rojas, et al., Case No. CR13-050, the government forfeited $343,329 in cash and property as proceeds of a drug ring distributing large quantities of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.  In U.S. v. 11403 23rd Ave. W. Everett, WA, et al., Case No. C14-1132 the government recovered $412,694 from a store owner related to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefit Fraud and Money Laundering.

Topic(s): 
Office and Personnel Updates
Updated December 14, 2016