A single U.S. Attorney's Office collected nearly $136 million from civil and criminal cases last year, and it also helped seize more than $154 million in asset forfeiture actions. It's framing its looting as a way to give back to U.S. taxpayers.
In a Tuesday press release, the Northern District of Georgia office—one of 93 of its kind—touted its taking of $135,962,250.57 "in civil and criminal actions for U.S. taxpayers" (emphasis mine) in fiscal year 2017, a period that extends from October 2016 through last September.
But the money was actually taken from U.S. taxpayers, to give to the federal government.
Yet just $11.4 million of the money collected in Georgia's Northern District came from criminal actions. The other $124.5 million came from fines and fees in civil cases.
The office also helped other Justice Department entities pursue $196,384,969 in criminal and civil actions, of which just $16,593—far less than one percent—stemmed from the criminal cases.
And let's be clear: "Criminal case" doesn't necessarily mean the fines or forfeiture were fair. A lot of Northern Georgia's criminal cases last year involved nonviolent drug or gun charges.
In addition to all of the above, the office helped seize $154,081,713 "as a result of asset forfeiture actions" undertaken with partner agencies.
"Each day we strive…to safeguard taxpayer dollars," said U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak about the money.
He must have a funny definition of "safeguard."
While only a few U.S. Attorney's Offices have publicized their 2017 money collecting, those that do present similarly staggering numbers:
- The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California collected over $65.3 million in criminal and civil actions and helped seize around $9.2 million in asset forfeiture actions.
- The Vermont U.S. Attorney's Office collected or helped collect more than $160.6 million in civil and criminal actions and aided in seizing $212,691 in asset forfeiture actions.
- U.S. prosecutors in Maine collected more than $2.7 million in criminal actions and $577,291 in civil actions, and they helped seize $915,194 in asset forfeiture actions.
Overall, the Justice Department collected more than $15 billion in civil and criminal actions in fiscal year 2017.