U.S. attorney collects record $3B in forfeitures

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is shown in this

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is shown in this undated file photo. (Credit: Charles Eckert)

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The U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District, which has jurisdiction over Manhattan, in 2012 collected nearly $3 billion in forfeiture funds from criminal cases -- an amount equal to 68 percent of such seizures nationwide, the office said Thursday.

The federal prosecutor last year also collected another $526.7 million in civil actions, and $76.8 million in restitution, criminal fines and special assessments.

The 2012 forfeitures represent "the largest amount collected in a given year by any office since the United States' asset forfeiture funds were established in the 1980s," Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, said in a prepared statement.

The office collected more than $2.2 billion in funds related to the Madoff investment fraud, most of it in clawbacks from the estate of one of Madoff's major investors, Jeffry Picower, and the remainder from another Madoff investor, Carl Shapiro.

"Monies collected by the office in connection with the Madoff cases will be distributed to victims in accordance with the Department of Justice remission process . . . and we expect the victim claims process to begin shortly," Bharara's office said.

More than $500 million in forfeitures was collected from a contractor, Science Applications International Corp., for its role in a fraud and kickback scheme involving the city's CityTime payroll project. Most of that money will be used to pay salaries for 2,500 teachers, and to avoid layoffs of police officers or firefighters.

Another $728 million was forfeited in connection with the prosecution of Adelphia Communications Corp. in a securities fraud case, and that amount was distributed to investor victims, the office said.

And $158 million was forfeited in an agreement with two online poker companies, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, in a money laundering case.

More than $200 million was forfeited by Deutsche Bank and MortgageIT in a civil fraud complaint involving false certifications made for Federal Housing Administration insurance.

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