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U.S. Attorney’s Office reports financial collections

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said her Financial Litigation Unit collected over $13 million in civil debts, criminal fines, assessments and restitution for the fiscal year that ended September 30,2016.

Olson said the unit collected $1,584,902.42 in criminal fines, assessments, and restitution, and $10,671,716.97 in civil debts. It also recovered $1,195,121 in proceeds and instruments of criminal and civil forfeitures.

Olson said the collections exceed the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s annual operational budget. “Our collection and asset forfeiture staffs of attorneys, paralegals, analysts and fiscal agents ensure that those who owe the federal government money as a result of litigation in this district or as a result of longtime debt, such as student loans, make appropriate payments. They also ensure that those who have profited from committing crimes in the District of Idaho are deprived of the proceeds and tools of their crimes. This year, all of these dedicated individuals have done outstanding work and served this office, taxpayers and the federal government well.”

The Financial Litigation Unit collects civil penalties for violations of regulations involving, among other things, controlled substances, environmental protection, damage to federal property, and procurement fraud. It also collects civil debts for defaulted student loans and defaulted federally financed mortgages, working with debtors to arrange viable payment plans. During fiscal year 2016, the office collected over $10.67 million in civil debt. Of that, the office collected $9 million for fraudulent procurement of government contracts and collected $1.2 million from EPA violations concerning release of hazardous substances. This includes violations by J.R. Simplot Company, Owyhee Construction, Inc. and Riverside Water & Sewer District. It also collected an FCC civil forfeiture penalty of $25,000 from Pacific Empire Radio Corp. in Lewiston for failure to provide adequate public inspection files for their radio stations.

In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office collected approximately $90,831 in defaulted student loans, $193,000 in fire suppression costs for human-caused fires, and $80,388.38 in health care fraud related cases.

Olson said victims of crime receive funds collected in criminal restitution cases or into a Crime Victims Fund. From there, money is distributed to Idaho Crime Victims Compensation, the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance.

Money recovered from the illegal proceeds of criminal activity is returned to the victims, used to offset the costs of operating federal prisons, and shared with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to help fight crime. Some of the other recoveries go back to agency creditors.

The collections include a number of fraud and other cases. Those other cases include recovery of $222,607 which was restored to victims in an Eastern Idaho investment fraud case; $94,412 forfeited in a Boise-based investment fraud case; $86,126 recovered from a Central Idaho bank robbery case; $75,000 recovered from an illegal gambling operation in Ada and Canyon Counties; and $178,152 recovered in an organic seed fraud case. Approximately $1.32 million in drug trafficking proceeds of crime were recovered in these cases.

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