Federal prosecutors collect $8.7 million in NM

December 26, 2012 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — [auth] The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico collected $8.7 million during the last fiscal year in cases in which money was owed to the federal government or to victims of crimes.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( that the smallest amount came from a $10 collection in a 2008 fatal crash on the Navajo Nation, while the largest criminal collection came when former Deputy Insurance Superintendent Joe Ruiz fully paid off $102,000 in restitution from his conviction on wire fraud and other charges.

The prosecutors’ office is responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims.

The $8.7 million in collections in New Mexico were made in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30.

Nationally, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices collected $13.1 billion in the same period, doubling the amount from the previous year.

The New Mexico office took in other funds related to criminal cases.

Its largest civil forfeiture was related to a criminal case charging three men with conspiracy, fraud and money laundering connected to a venture called Puerto Penasco Getaway. Some 30 investors put a total of $7 million into the entity created to buy and hold real estate in Mexico, including houses, apartments and condominiums.

When the venture ran into trouble, one man charged in the case, Wayne B. Church, planned sales of properties so investors could get back 30 percent of their investment, but instead he and two others who are charged in the case are accused of devising a plan to sell the properties and keep the proceeds for themselves.

Church has entered a guilty plea. The case is pending against the two remaining men.

The forfeiture action was filed against three bank accounts. One of them, at People’s Bank in Albuquerque containing $220,771, was taken in a default judgment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico also netted $1.9 million in a civil collection in an Environmental Protection Agency matter involving United Nuclear Corp.

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