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Federal fines go uncollected across the nation

Martha Mendoza and Christopher Sullivan of The Associated Press used federal records to show that the amount of unpaid federal fines has risen sharply in the past decade, in an investigation that examined federal financial penalty enforcement across the nation. Individuals and corporations regularly avoid large penalties for wrongdoing — sometimes through negotiations, sometimes because companies go bankrupt, sometimes because officials fail to keep close track of who owes what under a decentralized collection system. "The government is currently owed more than $35 billion in fines and other payments from criminal and in civil cases, according to Justice Department figures." This is enough to cover the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security. The story includes a breakdown of how much is owed by state.

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