$33 Million is Collected: According to federal officials, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon has recovered nearly $33 million this year in criminal and civil cases involving tax-evading strip club operators and an electric business that is accused of igniting wildfires because of faulty transmission equipment.
Nearly $33 Million is Collected by the U.S. Attorney for Oregon in Fiscal Year 2022
Criminal cases totaling $10.2 million and civil lawsuits totaling $4.6 million are included in the collections. The Oregon office also collaborated with other U.S. Attorney’s offices to recover $1 million in additional criminal and civil cases and nearly $17 million through asset forfeiture.
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According to officials, forfeited assets are placed in the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund, which is used to reimburse crime victims for lost funds as well as for other law enforcement needs. The numbers pertain to the federal fiscal year, which finished on September 30.
According to Katie de Villiers, head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division, “The District of Oregon’s Financial Litigation Program staff deliver a valuable service to victims of crime, as well as a valuable return to the American people, by holding accountable those who have profited from crimes committed in Oregon and beyond, and by collecting on other actions resulting in civil settlements.”
“We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that crime victim, whether they are individuals, businesses of any size, or governmental entities, are made as financially whole as possible.”
The Funding Originates From a Number of Places
In one instance, three former owners of two strip clubs in the Portland region who conspired to cheat the IRS and the Oregon Department of Revenue paid $608,217 as a result of their conviction. According to the indictment, they concealed money their clubs received from cover charges and dancer stage fees as well as underreported their taxable revenue by more than $1.5 million.
In another case, Idaho Power Company agreed to pay $1.5 to settle claims that two fires in Baker County were caused by its defective transmission equipment: the Lime Hill Fire in 2015, which burned about 2,592 acres of BLM-managed land and 9,337 acres of private land, and the Powerline Fire in 2014, which destroyed about five acres of BLM property. The Boise-based utility made no admission of wrongdoing in the deal.
The amount raised this year is less than last year. According to Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon, the office received somewhat more than $35 million for the 2021 federal fiscal year.
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However, he noted that year-to-year comparisons can differ due to a number of variables, such as sizable settlements, the sale of a defendant’s assets, or a change in the defendant’s financial situation.
Additionally, collections can take years and go long past the date of a defendant’s conviction. For instance, the former owners of a strip club, David Kiraz, 40, of Happy Valley, Oregon, and his father and brother, George Kiraz, 62, and Daniel Kiraz, 37, also of Portland, were found guilty of submitting fraudulent tax returns in 2016 and each received a one- to a three-year jail sentence.
In an interview, Sonoff stated that “the general public doesn’t comprehend that our work, especially in criminal cases, doesn’t end when a person is sentenced to prison.”
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Since financial institutions and governmental organizations are included in the list of crime victims, in addition to individuals, Sonoff said it is challenging to estimate the number of victims the program assists.
According to federal law, those convicted of criminal offenses must provide restitution payments to those who have been physically hurt or financially harmed. A crime victims fund receives additional criminal fines and felony assessments and distributes them to federal and state victim assistance organizations.
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