The government shutdown did its best to slow the flow of money to victims and taxpayers, but in the end, federal prosecutors in Buffalo still collected a record amount this year.
With the books all but closed, the local U.S. Attorney’s Office estimates it took in $94 million in fines, restitution and forfeitures, well above the $53 million it took in last year. Of that, about $22 million went to crime victims.
“We did a lot more with a lot less this year,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard D. Kaufman, head of the forfeiture unit.
Kaufman’s boss, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., made several mentions of the government shutdown and its impact on his civil litigation staff during a news conference Monday.
Almost all of them, lawyers and support staff, were furloughed during the shutdown despite their role in bringing in more money than they spend.
“They literally were not allowed to do the taxpayers’ work,” Hochul said.
Kevin D. Robinson, deputy chief of the forfeiture unit, pointed to a number of criminal and civil cases that contributed to the record recovery, including the prosecution of a North Tonawanda tax preparer.
Vincent P. Mangione was supposed to pay federal income taxes on behalf of his clients but instead pocketed the money.
Even worse, perhaps, his clients were left on the hook for the taxes and found themselves facing IRS tax liens.
Mangione, who was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiGiacomo, got 30 months in prison and was ordered by to pay $839,000 in restitution.
While 2013 proved to be a record year, Hochul said the coming year has the potential to far exceed it, and all because of one case – the criminal prosecution of Tonawanda Coke.
The company and one of its executives, Mark L. Kamholz, face a combined $400 million in fines when they are sentenced in March by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.