RALEIGH – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced today that the Eastern District of North Carolina collected $7,077,577.63 in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year 2020. Of this amount, $3,728,529.18 was collected in criminal actions and $3,349,048.45 was collected in civil actions. Additionally, over $4.4 million was collected in asset forfeitures.
Overall, the Justice Department collected more than $15.9 billion in civil and criminal actions in fiscal year (FY) 2020 ending Sept. 30, 2020. The $15,988,516,670 in collections in FY 2020 represents more than five times the approximately $3.2 billion appropriated budget for the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the main litigating divisions of the Justice Department combined in that same period. The total includes all monies collected as a result of Justice Department-led enforcement actions and negotiated civil settlements. It includes more than $13.5 billion in payments made directly to the Justice Department, and more than $2.4 billion in indirect payments made to other federal agencies, states and other designated recipients.
As part of its efforts to stop the reckless dispensing of opioids and other controlled substances, the Eastern District of North Carolina collected a $600,000 civil penalty from Farmville Discount Drugs and its owner Robert L. Crocker for multiple violations of the Controlled Substances Act that placed many of its patrons in danger of serious addiction and overdose. The civil judgment and permanent injunction levied against Farmville and Crocker resulted in each losing their license to dispense controlled substances.
Additionally, the Office has taken aggressive efforts to collect restitution for crime victims ordered by the United States District Court, resulting in millions of dollars collected for crime victims. As an example, after pleading guilty to receiving child pornography, William Trevor Soloff was sentenced to 151 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution to victims of the child pornography associated with his offense and a $5,000 assessment pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. The Office garnished a 401(k) account belonging to Soloff to satisfy the judgment in full.
“Our office uses every available tool in our arsenal to vigorously litigate and aggressively collect victim restitution and criminal fines, and recover taxpayer dollars that are either lost to fraud or otherwise owed to government agencies,” said Mr. Higdon. “We are proud of the men and women in our office who work so hard to pursue justice through their prompt and effective collection efforts.”
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 collected to federal and state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina, working with partner agencies and divisions, collected $4,445,776 in asset forfeiture actions in FY 2020. Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund can be used for a variety of purposes, including to support law enforcement. In certain circumstances, they can also be used to restore funds to crime victims. The Department of Justice, for instance, restored at least $1.1 million in assets forfeited by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Fiscal Year 2020, which assets have been used to compensate the victims of crimes prosecuted by this office.
“The forfeiture of assets which facilitate crimes or which are the fruits of the crime deprives the criminals of the means and reasons for their criminal activity,” Mr. Higdon stated. “Asset forfeiture serves an important law enforcement interest. We will continue to aggressively follow the money so that we can financially disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations and restore funds to victims of crime.”
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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.