Leading the Nation in Legal Shakedowns

Facts are these.  Guy owns hotel.  Criminal rents room and sells drugs; gets busted. Government seizes hotel.

“The Motel Caswell is a place people go to distribute, buy and use illegal drugs,” federal prosecutor Sonya Rao told a judge. It is a “dangerous property.”

U.S. Attorney Ortiz said through a spokeswoman last week that the government wanted to send a message by going after the motel. But just up the street from the Caswell, the Motel 6, Walmart and Home Depot have all experienced a similar rate of drug crimes on their properties over the years, according to Caswell’s attorneys.

Should the government win its case, it will sell off Caswell’s property and give the Tewksbury Police 80 percent of the take.

This case is only one.  After all, Massachusetts apparently leads the nation in shakedowns. Carmen Ortiz appears to be so proud.

Scarier: Governor to be Ortiz?

…U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced today that the District of Massachusetts collected over $8.8 billion in FY 2012 related to criminal and civil actions, which accounts for over 67% of the total nationwide actions.  Of this amount, over $1.3 billion was collected in criminal actions and over $7.5 billion was collected in civil actions.  Additionally, the office collected over $61 million in criminal and civil forfeitures.


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  • Where did the bulk of the $8.8 billion come from?

    “• US v GlaxoSmithKline LLC – GSK’s payment of over $3 billion made it the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history. The settlement arose from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, its failure to report certain safety data and alleged false price reporting practices.

    • US v. Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp – Merck pleaded guilty and agreed to pay over $959 million for illegally promoting and marketing the painkiller Vioxx® (rofecoxib).

    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 U.S. and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. Statistics indicate that the total amount collected in criminal actions totaled $3.035 billion in restitution, criminal fines, and felony assessments. 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 directly to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the department’s Crime Victims’ Fund, which distributes the funds to state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.

    In addition, civil debts were collected on behalf of several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, and Small Business Administration.”

    I don’t have an opinion about the motel (that has been discussed at BMG for a week or so), the US Attorney acts as a conduit for restitution paid to victims in both civil and criminal cases, and this results in a distorted amount of “forfeiture” money being collected.  

    It also plays well in the the hands of demagogues trying paint a meme of out-of-control government power.