United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana collected $14,869,623 through civil, criminal and asset forfeiture actions in fiscal year 2017. Generally, the money collected is used to restore funds to crime victims and to recover money owed to the United States.
The District collected more than $13 million in criminal actions and $1.2 million in civil actions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also worked with its law enforcement partners to collect almost $60,000 in asset forfeiture actions in fiscal year 2017.
Included in the fiscal year 2017 criminal collections is $9.5 million collected from Wood Group PSN Inc. and $1.2 million collected from Omega Protein Inc. Wood Group previously pleaded guilty to violations of the Clean Water Act, as well as one count of falsifying documents, and was sentenced to pay more than $9 million in criminal fines and restitution. Omega Protein also pleaded guilty to Clean Water Act violations and was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $1 million plus $200,000 restitution.
The total amount collected by the District in 2017 included almost $1 million collected in garnishment proceedings commenced by the District’s Financial Litigation Unit (FLU). The money collected is attributable to aggressive asset investigations and garnishment of various financial interests of debtors including retirement and other investment accounts, pensions and annuities, life insurance policies, bank accounts and wages. The FLU also placed an emphasis on increasing its garnishment of assets held in the name of nominee business entities.
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 U.S. and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. 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 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.
Overall, the Justice Department collected more than $15 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017.
“It takes long hours and great effort from our attorneys and support staff to track down and collect these funds,” Van Hook said. “The money is often owed by defendants who resist repaying victims of crime. I am thankful for our dedicated employees who, for another year, brought in a record amount in collections on behalf of crime victims and taxpayers.”