In Sacramento and Washington, D.C., federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced record revenue from fines and judgments, fueled largely by the JPMorgan Chase settlement over sales of soured mortgage bonds that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.
In Sacramento, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner reported a record increase – from $75.6 million to more than $9 billion – in collections by his office during the last fiscal year for civil and criminal fines, restitution, judgments and settlements, plus court-ordered assessments.
Some of the collections were made by his office alone and some in conjunction with other branches of the U.S. Department of Justice, said Wagner, who heads the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.
The huge jump in revenue for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, compared with the same period a year ago, is attributable to the office’s share of the federal government’s landmark $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank.
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Also Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, D.C., announced that the JPMorgan settlement, reached a year ago, fattened the Department of Justice’s take in the same fiscal year from $9.9 billion to $24.7 billion. The latter figure represents more than eight times the fiscal 2014 $2.91 billion budget for the 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and the Justice Department’s litigation divisions, Holder said.
Wagner’s office came in for such a healthy share of the huge federal settlement because he and his civil division staff spearheaded an investigation of wrongdoing related to the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities by JPMorgan. The results of that investigation played heavily into negotiations that led to the settlement. A $2 billion penalty that was part of the package was directly attributable to the work done by the Sacramento U.S. attorney’s office, Wagner said.
Additionally, the office, working with partner agencies and divisions, raked in more than $25.6 million through asset forfeiture actions in fiscal 2014, also a record. This was up from $6.2 million in fiscal 2013. This money is used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.
Call The Bee’s Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.