The Edmond Sun


January 29, 2014

Investing in justice is a safe, sound strategy

EDMOND — During fiscal year 2013, the Department of Justice, collected more than $8 billion in civil and criminal actions on behalf of American taxpayers. This is nearly three times the amount of DOJ’s direct appropriations that fund our main litigating divisions in Washington, D.C., and all 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country. Combined with collections secured during fiscal year 2012, DOJ has attained the highest two-year total in its history — bringing in a noteworthy $21 billion.

Here in the Western District of Oklahoma we recovered more last year than any prior year in our history. We collected more than $177 million in criminal and civil actions, of which more than $163 million was collected in criminal actions and more than $13 million in civil actions. My office also worked jointly with other U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ components to collect an additional $446 million in other civil cases. Finally, the Western District collected more than $78 million more in asset forfeiture actions.  

In July of 2013, this office resolved parallel criminal and civil cases against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc., for the unlawful “off-label” marketing of the prescription drug Rapamune for uses not approved by the FDA. The case concluded with Wyeth pleading guilty to a criminal misbranding violation and paying $490.9 million to resolve its criminal and civil liability.  

In April of 2013, we resolved alleged record-keeping violations by CVS Pharmacy and recovered $11 million. The monetary recovery is certainly significant, but this case was also critical to our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse. Ensuring that accurate prescription records are provided to state prescription drug monitoring programs, so that controlled substances are properly distributed and accounted for, is essential.

We are committed to hold accountable those who seek to profit from their illegal activities. The dedicated public servants in my office work daily to recover the financial losses suffered by victims of crime and money obtained by fraud against the government. This effort is coordinated by our Asset Recovery Unit comprised of specially trained personnel who pursue collections and forfeiture matters.

Nationally, more than $3 billion of last year’s recoveries related specifically to health care fraud on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. In fact, for every dollar spent to combat health care fraud during the past three years, DOJ and its investigative partners have returned an average of nearly eight dollars. As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently noted, this work is enabling us to achieve justice and recoup losses in virtually every sector of the economy. All across the country — from Wall Street to Main Street — DOJ’s robust criminal and civil enforcement efforts have yielded extraordinary returns on investment for American taxpayers, in addition to enforcing federal laws and protecting the American people from violent crime, national security threats, discrimination, exploitation and abuse.

The numbers speak for themselves. Locally and nationally, investing in justice not only keeps us safe, it is a sound financial investment.

SANFORD C. COATS is U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.


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  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results