Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia federal prosecutors collected millions in 2013

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Western Pennsylvania's federal prosecutors increased their haul from judgments, fines, settlements, restitution, special assessments and forfeitures by nearly 50 percent during the 2013 fiscal year, U.S. Attorney David Hickton announced today.

The office collected $24.5 million through criminal and civil actions during the year and another $3.4 million through forfeitures for a total of nearly $28 million. In 2012, the office reeled in $19.1 million, and it collected $15.6 million in the 2011 fiscal year.

The office also worked with other Department of Justice offices and units to bring in another $5.7 million, according to a press release.

“Recovering monies due the American taxpayer is a priority and we have made substantial progress improving our performance over the last three years,” said Mr. Hickton in the release.

He noted that his office "collected more than twice the amount of money the federal government allocates us to operate our office.”

The bulk of the haul consisted of $15 million obtained through a settlement with Krones Aktiengesellschaft and Wisconsin-based U.S. subsidiary Krones Inc., which sold equipment to defunct Latrobe bottler Le-Nature's Inc. Federal prosecutors alleged that Krones was part of the Le-Natures fraud scheme, though the company did not admit criminal liability.

In the neighboring northern district of West Virginia, federal prosecutors collected $3.2 million in criminal and civil actions in fiscal year 2013, a number that included more than $500,000 from a Westmoreland County chiropractor convicted of fraudulently billing insurance companies and workers' compensation programs.

The U.S. attorney's office in Wheeling said $2.3 million of the total was collected in criminal actions and another $885,000 in civil penalties.

The office also participated in the collection of another $11 million in civil cases pursued jointly with prosecutors in other jurisdictions.

Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that the Justice Department collected $8.1 billion in 2013, more than three times the amount budgeted for the 94 U.S. attorney's offices nationwide.

Among the major criminal collections in West Virginia was $502,000 paid by Joseph Yurigan, a chiropractor from New Alexandria, Pa., who is serving 18 months in federal prison for health care fraud and tax evasion. Mr. Yurigan ran Weirton Chiropractic Clinic and Wheeling Spine Center and sent false bills to Medicaid, Medicare and other programs.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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