$15 million Missing from Victims Fund; Feds Oppose Forensic Audit
Federal and state prosecutors used over $15 million in restitution collected for crime victims to purchase airline tickets, hotel rooms and laptop computers. Meanwhile, crime victims who are lawfully entitled to compensation say they have never received a penny from any mortgage fraud prosecutions in Northeast Ohio. Justin Herdman, the U.S. Attorney in Cleveland, opposed a recent motion for a forensic audit of collections and disbursements of restitution collected on behalf of crime victims, arguing that defendants are only "entitled to know the amount" they paid in restitution and not what the government was doing with the money. Judge James Gwin agreed that defendants "received sufficient information" but an appeal of Judge Gwin's decision included statements by victims that they have never received any money collected on their behalf and cited restitution statutes that restitution may only be paid to parties named in restitution orders. Since 2009, over 500 citizens have paid restitution in cases prosecuted by a Federal-State Mortgage Fraud Task Force. In grant applications for federal funds, The Task Force falsely claimed it collected and distributed over $15 million to crime victims, Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant # 2009-SC-B9-0080.
Separately, on July 11, 2018, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Presiding Judge John J. Russo referred the government's diversion of restitution payments to the Public Defender's Office for their review and analysis.
A ruling by The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on the request for a forensic audit is expected shortly, US Bank vs. USA, et. al., case # 18-3088 .
To view the Prosecutor's check registry confirming the misappropriation funds collected on behalf of crime victims, kindly visit the www.FreeTonyViola.com Evidence Locker.