Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office Collected $118.9 Million In Civil And Criminal Actions And Asset Forfeitures In Fiscal Year 2014

CHICAGO ―(ENEWSPF)–December 30, 2014.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois collected $118.9 million in fiscal year (FY) 2014, Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced today.  These collections included more than $29.8 million in criminal debts, more than $80.4 million in civil actions, and more than $8.7 million collected through asset forfeiture proceedings, resulting in the office’s total collections exceeding more than four times its budget of approximately $28.1 million in FY 2014.  Over approximately the last 11 fiscal years combined, the office has collected more than $1 billion on behalf of the United States.

Additionally, the Northern District of Illinois worked with other U.S. Attorney’s Offices and components of the Department of Justice to collect an additional $62.79 million, primarily in civil cases pursued jointly with these offices.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced last month that the Justice Department collected $24.7 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014.  The more than $24 billion in collections in FY 2014 represents nearly eight and a half times the appropriated $2.91 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices and the main litigating divisions in that same period.

“Every day, the Justice Department’s federal prosecutors and trial attorneys work hard to protect our citizens, to safeguard precious taxpayer resources, and to provide a valuable return on investment to the American people,” said Attorney General Holder.  “Their diligent efforts are enabling us to achieve justice and recoup losses in virtually every sector of the U.S. economy.  And it shows the fruits of the Justice Department’s tireless work in enforcing federal laws; in protecting the American people from violent crimes, national security threats, discrimination, exploitation, and abuse; and in holding financial institutions accountable for their roles in causing the 2008 financial crisis.”

“Collecting more than four times what we cost is nothing short of remarkable considering that we are still recovering from serious financial challenges,” Mr. Fardon said.  “Our attorneys and staff, especially in our Civil Division, Financial Litigation Unit, and Asset Forfeiture Section, continue to expand our commitment to protecting the public and recovering funds for the federal treasury and for victims of federal crime.  We need to be constantly vigilant to ensure that crime does not pay, and in doing so, we have provided a substantial net financial benefit to the citizens of our district,” Mr. Fardon added. 

During FY 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Financial Litigation Unit in Chicago collected $29,831,085.20 in criminal actions, including more than $2.5 million in criminal fines; more than $6.5 million in restitution owed to the federal government; and more than $10.6 million in non-federal restitution owed to victims, including the victims of numerous financial fraud and Ponzi-type schemes.  More than $9.4 million was restored to crime victims from assets that were forfeited in previous years, including approximately $9.2 million in net liquidated proceeds from the forfeited assets of Rita Crundwell, the former comptroller of Dixon, Ill., who is serving a sentence of nearly 20 years in prison for embezzling $53 million from the town over two decades.  Some of the largest criminal fines and restitution in FY 2014 came from defendants who were prosecuted in a series of cases involving illegal importations of honey from China to avoid antidumping duties.  

In civil actions, the office collected $80,406,164.97, including a $53 million civil penalty on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service from a businessman, H. Ty Warner, who pleaded guilty to failing to report income from a secret foreign bank account.  Other significant civil collections included $15.5 million from a pharmaceutical manufacturer to settle Medicare false billing claims, and $7.2 million from a Chicago construction company to settle claims of fraud on government programs to benefit minority and women-owned businesses on public works contracts.

Civil collections typically stem 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.  Civil debts were also collected on behalf of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, IRS, Small Business Administration, and Department of Education.

The U.S. Attorney’s Offices, along with the Justice 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.  When defendants are convicted and sentenced in criminal cases, judges must impose restitution to victims of certain federal crimes who have suffered a physical injury or financial loss.  The U.S. Attorney’s Offices are authorized to make efforts to collect criminal debts for 20 years after defendants are released from custody.

While restitution is paid by Courts directly 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.  Liquidated assets obtained through criminal and civil forfeiture proceedings are deposited into either the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund or the Department of Treasury Forfeiture Fund and are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.