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Press Release

Western Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office Work Leads to  Collection Of More than $800 Million for Victims and Taxpayers

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Cases Handled Alone Resulted In More Than $22 Million In Civil, Criminal And Forfeiture Actions

U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office collected more than $22 million in criminal and civil actions it handled by itself, including $12.3 million from the sale of forfeited assets.  An additional $817 million was collected in cases the U.S. Attorney’s Office handled with other Department of Justice divisions and other U.S. Attorney’s Offices.

“We will hold wrongdoers accountable.  We use every tool available to strip criminals of the proceeds of their crimes, collect significant fines from wrongdoers, protect taxpayers, and support victims,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “Civil litigation and criminal prosecutions help keep communities safe.  Fulfilling our mission of protecting the public includes returning money to taxpayers and victims, and we are able to do that in a way that is fiscally responsible and adds value to the federal treasury.”

Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that the Justice Department collected approximately $8.1 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending September 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 American people,” said Attorney General 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.”

In the past fiscal year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington, in partnership with other DOJ components, recovered significant settlements in civil litigation, including more than $184 million in a fair housing case with Wells Fargo Bank, and more than $623 million as its share of a False Claims Act case with Amgen for the marketing and promotion of a misbranded drug.

On the criminal side, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collected $326,630 in connection with U.S. v. Craig James, a case in which James conspired to steal and damage thirty-one old growth western cedar trees on the Olympic National Forest.  Some of the trees were nearly 600 years old.  The office also seized movie deal proceeds of $216,558 for victims of Colton Harris-Moore, the serial aircraft thief who went on an interstate crime spree before being captured in the Bahamas.  The office collected $564,533 in connection with U.S. v. Michelle Bielaski, a case where Bielaski failed to pay the IRS employment taxes that her company withheld from employee paychecks over a ten year period.

In asset forfeiture, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington collected $12.3 million in proceeds from the sale of forfeited assets in FY 2013.  Forfeited assets are deposited into the DOJ Assets Forfeiture Fund or the Treasury Forfeiture Fund and are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.  Of those forfeited assets, more than $1 million went to compensate crime victims.  The largest single forfeiture in the Western District of Washington in FY 2013 was $1.2 million from the sale of the former Sugar’s club in Shoreline as part of U.S. v. Colacurcio.

The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, along with DOJ’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 DOJ’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.

Updated March 23, 2015