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U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District North Carolina Financial Litigation Unit

2009 Crime Victims Fund Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District North Carolina Financial Litigation Unit | Crime Victims Fund Award
Team Members: S. Katherine Burnette; Sarah Aman; Margaret Davis; Claire Farland; Charlene Harris; David Stearns
Raleigh, NC

The Financial Litigation Unit (FLU) with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina has helped to restore victims’ rightful ownership of what has been taken away, lost, or surrendered from federal criminal defendants. 

The FLU team—Assistant United States Attorney S. Katherine Burnette, paralegal Sarah Aman, accountant Margaret Davis, and agents Claire Farland, Charlene Harris, and David Stearns—has made extraordinary efforts to restore substantial amounts back to victims of crime. In two cases, with restitution in excess of $1 million, fraudulent conveyances were filed on various parcels of real estate and personal property. 

FLU utilized a real estate auctioneer to sell a defendant’s waterfront home and several rental properties, maximizing the amount collected for the victim. In another case, collaboration with other case agents helped to discover the defendant had inheritance interest in property. The property was sold to heirs and the proceeds applied to restitution for the victim. 

FLU uses both pre- and postjudgment sections of the Federal Debt Procedures Collection Act for collecting restitution. They have successfully maximized restitution by using receiverships, attachments, executions, garnishments (voluntary and involuntary), subpoenas, deposition notices, and production of documents issued to determine a defendant’s financial circumstances. Each FLU member routinely conducts debtor exams. 

This unit is the first in the Nation to complete the FBI’s Case Agent Investigative Review course, furthering the unit’s capacity to identify documents and secure financial evidence not produced by defendants and use photographs to help close cases. To further FLU’s commitment to victims, FLU collaborates with other community agencies and professionals conducting trainings and assisting case agents in best practices for identifying and securing assets. 

FLU encourages and awards probation officers and case agents who provide prompt prejudgment notification to FLU of discovered assets. FLU prides itself on informing victims of the restitution process, ensuring that they are continually informed on the collection efforts, and that they have the opportunity to participate in court proceedings. 

As a result of the FLU’s efforts, wrongs are redressed, victims restored, and the bar for prosecutors and courts to argue and provide restitution for victims has been raised. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina’s Financial Litigation Unit was nominated by George E.B. Holding, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina.