published Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Federal cases in East Tennessee brought in $69 million in two years

EAST TENNESSEE COLLECTIONS

2010 -- $9 million

2011 -- $44 million

2012 -- $24.8 million

National collections

2012 -- $13.1 billion

Source: U.S. Attorney, East Tennessee

East Tennessee's U.S. attorneys say justice pays for itself.

Total collections in fines and forfeitures by federal prosecutors in the region for the past three years have been more than two and one-half times the office's total appropriated operating budgets for fiscal 2010, 2011 and 2012, according to William Killian, head of the district office.

In 2011, U.S. attorneys in East Tennessee collected $44 million -- a record high -- and in 2012, they brought in $24.8 million in criminal and civil actions.

Both years were high compared to most years, Killian said.

Just over $22.5 million of fiscal 2012 money was in civil actions -- and they were mostly for health care fraud and violations, he said.

Cases Chattanoogans will remember would be Memorial's $1.3 million settlement and Parkridge's $16.5 million, he said.

Federal prosecutors in East Tennessee also won cases bringing in $7.1 million in criminal fines and forfeitures.

The money doesn't go back into the U.S. District Attorney's office, of course. It goes to the U.S. Treasury.

"Some of it already was owed to government because it was taken from the Medicare system," Killian said. "But some was penalties," and that penalty money goes to increase the bottom line of the nation's bank account.

Patrick Burns, spokesman for the nonprofit Taxpayers Against Fraud, praised the work of the federal attorneys.

"It's always good when an office raises more money than it spends, and it's particularly good when it's [recovered] in the fraud sector. Not only does it stop fraud from the past, it also prevents fraud in the future," Burns said.

Nationwide, $13.1 billion was collected in criminal and civil actions during fiscal 2012, more than doubling the $6.5 billion collected in fiscal 2011.

The $13.1 billion represents more than six times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 offices this year.

Killian chalks the dollars and cents up to a "renewed focus. We have created a monetary recovery unit" to collect money that is due the United States.

"During this time of economic recovery, these collections are more important than ever," he said.

Contact Pam Sohn at psohn@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6346.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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