Jul 28, 2014
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CT U.S. Attorney's Office Spends $20M a Year, Collects $60M

Here's a nice federal budget story: The U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut collected triple the amount of money than it spent in the last fiscal year, according to this news release from the New Haven-based office.

CT U.S. Attorney's Office Spends $20M a Year, Collects $60M

 

Connecticut's U.S. Attorney's office has collected approximately $60 million this year as a result of criminal prosecutions, civil lawsuits and asset forfeiture actions during the 2012 fiscal year.

The money collected includes approximately $9.5 million collected in criminal actions, approximately $42.2 million collected in civil actions, and more than $8.25 million coming from criminal and civil asset forfeiture actions, David Fein, Connecticut's top prosecutor, announced this week.  The amount collected triples the Office’s annual budget of approximately $20 million.

“I appreciate the dedication of the people in this office and, notably, the work of our Civil Division and Financial Litigation Unit, in protecting the public and recovering this substantial amount of money,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein.

“Our attorneys and staff have managed to collect three times the entire budget of our office, funds that provide restitution and services to victims and pay for ongoing federal, state and local law enforcement efforts. We will continue to hold accountable those who seek to profit from illegal activities.”

The Office’s Financial Litigation Unit (“FLU”) litigates debt collection issues and enforces collection of criminal and civil debts owed to the United States or to victims of federal crime. 

The FLU that leads to recovery

The FLU enforces collection of civil debts on behalf of federal agencies in litigation that most often involves federal loan programs, civil penalties assessed by federal agencies and civil fraud actions litigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In FY2012, the office collected approximately $42.2 million from Connecticut debtors in satisfaction of their federal civil debts, including False Claims Act recoveries, such as procurement and health care fraud, and civil penalty and debt collection matters such as bankruptcy, student loans and foreclosures.

The largest civil recovery during FY2012 occurred in March 2012 when the office collected more than $24 million as the result of a settlement of four whistleblower lawsuits alleging various False Claims Act violations by Florida-based WellCare Health Plans, Inc., a provider of managed health care services for approximately 2.6 million Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries nationwide. 

One lawsuit was filed in the District of Connecticut and three were filed in the Middle District of Florida.  As a result of the settlement, WellCare agreed to pay the federal government and nine states a total of $137.5 million.

$18 million from United Technologies

The Office also collected more than $18 million in civil and criminal payments from Connecticut-based defense contractor United Technologies Corporation, and its Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation and Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation subsidiaries, as part of a global settlement with the federal government in connection with the companies’ illegal export to China of U.S.-origin military software used in the development of China’s first modern military attack helicopter.

In criminal cases, the court often imposes on a defendant a criminal fine, and 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.

In almost every criminal case, a mandatory special assessment is imposed upon each individual or corporate defendant at the time of sentencing, as well.  During FY2012, the FLU tracked and enforced payment of more than $9.5 million for special assessments, fines and restitution from federal criminal offenders who were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Those who are convicted of federal crimes are often subject to criminal asset forfeiture proceedings, whereby the government seizes property that was involved in or represents the proceeds of criminal behavior.  Property can also be forfeited through civil forfeiture actions.

Where the money goes

The proceeds of forfeited assets are deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund and Department of Treasury Forfeiture Fund and are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.

In Connecticut, $1.312 million in funds derived through asset forfeiture were provided to local law enforcement under the Equitable Sharing Program.

There are 93 U.S. Attorneys in the United States and its Territories.  Each U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States and criminal restitution owed to federal crime victims.

Nationwide, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $13.16 billion in criminal and civil actions during FY 2012.  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. Additionally, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $4.389 billion in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2012.

As much as the previous two years, combined

The $13.16 billion collected nationwide by the U.S. Attorneys’ offices for FY 2012 nearly matches the $13.18 billion collected in FY 2010 and FY 2011 combined, and it represents more than six times the appropriated budget of the combined 93 offices for FY 2012.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut is charged with enforcing federal criminal laws in Connecticut, and with representing the federal government in civil litigation in the District.  The Office employs approximately 64 Assistant United States Attorneys, 45 staff members and 13 contractors at offices in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport.

For further information, the United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Reports can be found on the Internet.

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