OKLAHOMA CITY – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma collected $11.9 million in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year that ended on September 30, U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing announced.
That sum consisted of $8.95 million in civil actions – including $3 million in a dispute over a construction project at Fort Sill – and $2.94 million in criminal actions.
The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, along with the Justice Department’s litigating divisions, are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States 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 Justice Department’s Crime Victims Fund, which distributes the funds to federal and state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.
The U.S. Department of Justice collected more than $15.9 billion in civil and criminal actions in Federal Fiscal Year 2020, which ended September 30. The $15,988,516,670 in collections in FY2020 represents more than five times the approximately $3.2 billion appropriated budget for the 94 U.S. Attorney’s 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.
“Recovering money for victims in criminal cases and the return of taxpayer funds in civil cases are foundational elements of our pursuit of justice,” Downing said. “The collections of Fiscal Year 2020 speak to the tremendous work of the women and men in my office and the dedication of our Financial Litigation Unit.”
Highlights of the Western District of Oklahoma’s FY2020 collection efforts included:
• A $3 million civil settlement in December 2019 with LaForge & Budd Construction Co. in a dispute over alleged false claims for progress payments for work done in 2010 on the Lake George dam embankment at the Fort Sill Army Post in Lawton.
• $2.8 million recovered in June 2020 from Tulsa-based contractor Ross Group Construction Corp. on claims they fraudulently obtained federal set-aside contracts reserved for disadvantaged small businesses.
• $488,491 recovered from a Texas oil and gas company, EnerVest Operating, for trespass claims arising from unapproved drilling, extraction, and selling of federal minerals.
• $110,490 in criminal restitution was collected in July 2020 from Ricky Erwin from proceeds he won in 2019 in a wrongful death case. Erwin was convicted in 2016 of tax evasion.
• A $70,000 Controlled Substances Act settlement in March 2020 with Dr. Floyd Smith, an anesthesiologist who practices in Oklahoma City. The United States alleged that Dr. Smith issued prescriptions for controlled substances to family members in violation of state law, without maintaining medical files on the family members and for no apparent medical purpose.
Those examples do not include additional recoveries from cases worked jointly with other Justice Department components.
For instance, working jointly with colleagues in the Justice Department’s Civil Fraud section, the Western
District of Oklahoma recovered $72.3 million in July 2020 to resolve health care kickback claims against Oklahoma Center for Orthopaedic and Multi-Specialty Surgery, a specialty hospital in Oklahoma City; its part-owner and management company, USP OKC, Inc. and USP OKC Manager, Inc.; and Southwest Orthopaedic Specialists, PLLC (SOS), an Oklahoma City-based physician group.
This is the second largest recovery in Western District of Oklahoma history.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma deposited $1,184,508 into the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Fund in FY2020. This amount does not include proceeds from assets forfeited in 2020 that have yet to be sold.
Many forfeited assets are returned to victims of crime. When that is not possible, forfeiture proceeds are deposited into a centralized fund and used to assist crime victims across the nation and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.