Federal prosecutors and civil attorneys collected more than $17 million in criminal fines and other penalties last year, a figure more than double the budget for the U.S. attorney's office here.
U.S. Attorney Richard D. Bennett said yesterday that the fines and other collection efforts, which focused chiefly on those convicted of fraud and drug dealing, helped him operate his office for the entire year "at no cost to taxpayers."
Bennett's office has an annual budget of about $7 million.
"While crime never pays for the criminal," Bennett said, "we do our very best to make sure it pays the taxpayers when we collect these fines and penalties. Our criminal and civil divisions are looking at the bottom line in every case."
The largest fine, $10 million, was imposed on Bolar Pharmaceutical Co. after the company pleaded guilty to 20 criminal charges in a fraud case tied to the 3-year-old probe of the generic drug industry. That probe is headed by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary P. Jordan and Lawrence G. McDade, of the Justice Department's consumer litigation division.
Bolar's fine, to which the company agreed in a plea bargain, was the largest ever imposed in a federal case nationwide and the largest ever imposed on a criminal defendant in Maryland.
Another generic drug company, American Therapeutics Inc., was fined $1 million in a similar case here last year.
In other notable cases, Nurad, Inc., a Baltimore defense contractor, was ordered to pay $1.25 million in civil judgments and criminal fines; Automated Sciences Group Inc., of Silver Spring, was fined $350,000 for conspiracy to bribe Navy officials in a contract scam; Solarex Corp. of Rockville paid a $275,000 settlement for violating another government contract; and Systems Engineering and Development Corp., of Columbia, was fined $123,785 for filing false claims with the government.
Federal authorities here also seized assets worth $4.6 million from criminal defendants, mostly drug dealers. Some $3.5 million from those forfeitures was shared with state and local police last year, Bennett said.
In addition, civil lawyers in Bennett's office filed 117 claims against people who defaulted on student loans they got from the U.S. Department of Education to attend colleges and medical schools, many of them on promises that they would work for the government afterward.
Bennett said his office hopes to recover at least $363,000 in that effort.
Besides Bennett's operating budget, the government did incur other costs in recovering the money, including the salaries of judges, marshals and police.