Attorney General Reports Record Financial Recoveries

Attorney General Spitzer announced today that the Department of Law recovered a record $294 million in court judgments, civil penalties and criminal fines in 2001.

The recoveries included more than $170 million returned to the state's general fund and more than $120 million distributed directly to individual residents and organizations in New York.

"My office is aggressively seeking recovery of amounts owed to New York State and its residents," Spitzer said. "This effort helps the state deal with its fiscal problems and compensates victims of wrongdoing."

The Department of Law recovered $171.2 million for the state in 2001, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. This includes more than $120 million in judgments and $23 million in registration fees, with the remaining funds coming from a combination of criminal fines and forfeitures, civil penalties, and recovery of costs and attorneys fees.

The department also initiated lawsuits and obtained settlements resulting the payment of $123.2 million in restitution directly to New York residents and organizations, a 1.2 percent increase over the previous year. This includes $38 million in charities cases, $15 million in consumer cases, and over $30 million in a variety of actions brought by the agency's 12 regional offices.

In addition to the $294 million in recoveries noted above, the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) resulted in an additional $395 million going to the state and $377 million to local governments.

Total recoveries, including tobacco and non-tobacco funds to the state, local governments and individual residents exceeded $1 billion last year.

The total budget for the Department of Law is approximately $187 million per year, of which about $122 million is generated by taxpayer funds.

"While I am proud of the record pace of recoveries this year, it is important to remember that most lawsuits handled by the Department of Law are defensive cases," the Attorney General said. "These affirmative recoveries actually pale in comparison to billions of dollars that we save the state every year by a strong defense in these cases."

The comparison of the 2000 and 2001 financial recovery totals is as follows:

Category20002001% Change
NYS judgments and settlements$ 116.4 million$ 124.6 million7.1 %
Other NYS recoveries$ 36.8 million$ 46.6 million26.6 %
NYS tobacco payments$ 372.3 million$ 395.3 million6.2 %
Total NYS recoveries$ 525.5 million$ 566.5 million7.8 %
    
Restitution to public$ 121.7 million$ 123.2 million1.2 %
NYC/County tobacco payments$ 349.5 million$ 377.1 million7.9 %
Total Public/Local Government Recoveries$ 471.2 million$ 500.3 million6.2 %
    
Total Recoveries$ 996.7 million$ 1.067 billion7.0 %


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