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U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee announced today that in Fiscal Year 2023 the Southern District of Mississippi collected more than $22 million in criminal and civil matters.  Of that amount, approximately $10,157,069 was collected in civil and criminal asset forfeiture actions, approximately $4,176,826 was collected in criminal debts owed to the United States and victims, and approximately $8,089,178 was collected through Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE).

“The Department of Justice collected millions of dollars from criminals and civil litigants in Mississippi that will now be used to help victims get back on their feet, ensure law enforcement agencies have additional resources to fight crime, and restore to the government monies wrongfully procured through waste, fraud, abuse or failure to adhere to regulations,” said U.S. Attorney Gee.

Out of the funds recovered by financial litigation, $2,025,799 was returned directly to victims of criminal activity in the district through restitution imposed in criminal cases.  Moreover, nearly $400,000 of additional money was recovered and returned directly to victims of email fraud in the district through civil asset forfeiture cases.

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 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 department’s Crime Victims Fund, which distributes the funds collected to federal and state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.

The mission of the asset forfeiture program is to deprive criminals of the proceeds of their crimes, including the assets purchased with those proceeds, and to disrupt criminal activity.  Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.

ACE cases allow recovery of tax payor dollars lost to fraud or other misconduct or to impose penalties for violations of Federal health, safety, civil rights, or environmental law.  One of the primary tools used in ACE cases is the False Claims Act (FCA).  The FCA allows recovery of up to three times the damages suffered by the United States, plus monetary penalties for each violation.  Many of these cases result from whistleblower lawsuits, which allows individuals or entities who have inside information about fraudulent conduct to file qui tam lawsuits on behalf of the United States. Some of the areas where the office has successfully employed the FCA include fraud perpetrated on federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE, the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), the Department of Defense military programs and contracts, and federal grant programs.

In the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, the asset forfeiture program and the financial litigation program are part of the office’s Asset Recovery Unit within the Criminal Division, which is coordinated by Assistant United States Attorney Clay B. Baldwin.  Multiple Assistant United States Attorneys in the Civil Division handle ACE matters and cases.

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