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U.S. Attorney’s office collects 10 times its budget in fines, forfeitures, debts

Idaho's U.S. Attorney's office has set a record by collecting more than $84 million in fines, restitution, civil debt and criminal forefeitures in the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That includes $3.2 million from criminal fines, assessments and restitution; $79.4 million in civil debts, and $1.7 million in asset forefeitures. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson noted that the total is more than 10 times her office's annual budget. A big chunk of the collections came from Hecla Mining pursuant to a settlement involving the Bunker Hill Superfund site in the Coeur d’Alene Basin. Click below for the U.S. Attorney's full announcement.


ON OCTOBER 4 2012                                               

U.S. Attorney's Office Collects Over $84 Million

Fiscal Year 2012 closes with record amount

BOISEUnited States Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that her office's Financial Litigation Unit collected $3,233,847.86 in criminal fines, assessments, and restitution, and $79,350,119.51 in civil debts for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2012.  In addition, the Asset Forfeiture Unit collected approximately $1,678,000 of proceeds of crime from convicted criminals.  The total is the most ever collected for the District of Idaho in a single fiscal year.

“The more than $84 million our staff collected through civil debts, asset forfeiture, fines, assessments and restitution is more than ten times the U.S. Attorney's Office's operational budget,” said Olson.  “Our dedicated collection staff 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.  Our asset forfeiture staff likewise works efficiently to deprive criminals of the profits of their crimes. This year, they have all 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, and aviation safety.  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 2012, the office collected over $79.3 million in civil debt; of that, $77.4 million was collected from Hecla Mining pursuant to a settlement involving the Bunker Hill Superfund site in the Coeur d’Alene Basin.

From convicted criminals, the U.S. Attorney's Office collects fines, assessments, restitution, and asset forfeitures. The Financial Litigation Unit also pursues reimbursement from those who have fraudulently obtained payments from government contracts and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.  The federal government provides approximately 70% of Medicaid funds for the State of Idaho.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office collected more than $62,000 of fraudulently-obtained Medicaid during the fiscal year, including $29,500 from an Idaho dentist and $32,500 from two medical providers for misuse of prescription drugs.

Victims of crime receive funds collected in criminal restitution cases. Other criminal collections go into the Crime Victims Fund.  From there, funds are distributed to the Idaho Crime Victims Compensation Program, the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance, and similar programs across the country.  Asset forfeitures are distributed to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to help fight crime. Other recoveries go back to agency creditors.  In fiscal year 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office collected over $3.2 million in federal, non-federal and criminal fines, $854,896.85 of which was distributed to victims of crime.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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