FESNO, Calif. - U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California collected $105,631,562 in civil and criminal cases during Fiscal Year 2012 (the 12 months ending September 30, 2012). This amount is many times the total operating budget of the office, and considerably higher than the $31 million collected for civil and criminal cases in Fiscal Year 2011.
Nationwide, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $13.1 billion in criminal and civil actions during FY 2012, more than doubling the $6.5 billion collected in FY 2011. A portion of this amount, $5.3 billion, was collected in shared cases in which one or more U.S. Attorneys’ offices or department-litigating divisions were also involved. The $13.1 billion represents more than six times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for FY 2012, and nearly matches the $13.18 billion collected in FY 2010 and FY 2011 combined.
“During this time of fiscal constraint, these collections are more important than ever,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “This office is dedicated to protecting the public, recovering funds for the federal treasury and for victims of federal crime, and restoring precious National Forests when they burn as a result of negligence by private interests. We will continue to hold accountable those who seek to profit from their illegal activities, and to ensure that wrongdoers — not the public — bear the costs imposed by harm done in this district.”
Recoveries in the Eastern District of California
The $105.6 million recovered by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California refers to actual funds received in FY 2012, not uncollected judgments, settlements, or assets seized for future forfeiture. Of that total, $7,518,844 was collected on forfeiture judgments, $6,812,714 was collected on other criminal judgments, and $91,300,004 was collected on civil judgments and settlements for fraud, negligent destruction of public resources, and other claims.
Non-Forfeiture Civil Recoveries
The $91,300,004 in civil recoveries by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in FY 2012 included $89,483,447 collected on judgments and settlements for wildfire torts, environmental enforcement, and other claims and $715,145 collected on defaulted government loans and other debts. Debt recoveries totaling $1,089,412 were achieved through bankruptcy cases in which the United States was a creditor.
Major civil recoveries included $25 million collected from Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants on a settlement for damages caused by the Moonlight Fire, which burned approximately 46,000 acres of the Plumas and Lassen National Forests in September 2007. An additional $30 million is to be paid on the Moonlight Fire settlement in future scheduled payments, along with a transfer of 22,500 acres of undeveloped land into the National Forest System. The district also recovered $30.2 million on settlements with Pacific Gas & Electric and other defendants related to the Sims Fire, Freds Fire, Rock Fire, and Hamilton Fire; and $23 million on a settlement of claims under the False Claims Act against Medtronic Inc., alleging use of post-market studies as kickbacks to induce doctors to implant the company’s cardiac devices, which were then paid for by Medicare.
Non-Forfeiture Criminal Recoveries
The $6,812,714 collected by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on criminal judgments in FY 2012 included $6,005,572 on restitution orders to compensate victims of crime, and $803,724 in fines and statutory assessments. 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 directly 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.
Forfeiture Recoveries, Remission to Victims, and Equitable Sharing with Law Enforcement Agencies
The $7,518,844 collected by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on forfeiture judgments in FY 2012 came from both civil and criminal forfeiture proceedings. This amount is more than double the forfeiture recoveries in FY 2011.
Major criminal forfeitures included $4 million forfeited from Anthony Symmes for his role in a “straw owner” mortgage fraud scheme in Chico, Calif., and $428,589 from Stancil Enterprises, an airplane dealership in Placerville, for structuring funds into its business bank accounts. In civil cases, the office forfeited $158,839 in drug proceeds seized from a home in Chico, $155,000 in equity from a real property in Elk Grove purchased with drug proceeds, $110,534 in laundered drug proceeds from a Sacramento methamphetamine dealer’s bank accounts, and $96,784 in structured drug proceeds seized from the bank account of a marijuana store in Gold River, Calif.
Through the Justice Department’s restoration
and remissions programs, $2,203,319 of forfeited funds was paid to crime victims in FY 2012. When combined with the $6,005,572 in restitution collected this year, as noted above, total compensation to crime victims in the Eastern District of California was more than $8 million in FY 2012.
In addition, $1,210,587 of forfeited funds was delivered to cooperating federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in FY 2012 through the Justice Department’s “equitable sharing” program, for use in criminal investigations, training, detention facilities, and other law enforcement purposes.
Nationwide Collections by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices
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 United States and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. Statistics indicate that the total amount collected in criminal actions totaled $3.035 billion in restitution, criminal fines, and felony assessments.
The statistics also indicate that $10.12 billion was collected by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in individually and jointly handled civil actions. 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, and Small Business Administration.
For further information, the United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Reports can be found at http://www.justice.gov/usao/reading_room/foiamanuals.html.