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Image of the Virginia State Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Good morning-

As the third year of Attorney General Herring's term comes to a close, I wanted to provide a brief look back on some of his accomplishments in 2016. In the last year alone, Attorney General Herring secured Virginia's largest ever multi-state consumer settlement, its largest ever environmental damages settlement, and its largest ever non-healthcare settlement for claims under the Virginia Fraud Against Tax Payers Act. In addition to these landmark accomplishments, AG Herring and his team continued to promote justice, equality, and opportunity for all Virginians, and provide high quality legal work to the people of Virginia and their government.
 
Addressing Substance Abuse through Education, Prevention, And Enforcement
 
Attorney General Herring was recognized with the Bronze Key Award by the McShin Foundation, a Richmond-area recovery community, for his ongoing efforts to address heroin and prescription drug abuse.
 
The OAG's documentary "Heroin: The Hardest Hit" was honored with a Telly Award and two Communicator Awards of Excellence by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts.
 
 
80,000 drug disposal kits were donated and are being distributed throughout the Commonwealth to help dispose of unused prescription pain killers, which are a known gateway to abuse.
 
Through partnerships with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District and local prosecutors, AG Herring's team has put dozens of heroin dealers and traffickers behind bars, including several dealers whose drugs contributed to overdose deaths in Virginia.
 
 
Record-setting Consumer Protection Actions
During AG Herring's term, his Consumer Protection Section has obtained judgments or settlements awarding approximately $22 million in restitution, approximately $31 million in civil penalties and attorneys' fees, and approximately $130 million in consumer debt forgiveness.  The Section has transferred nearly $7 million to the Commonwealth's General Fund.
 
Attorney General Herring recovered more than $63 million collectively from eleven banks to settle allegations that the banks misled the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) through the sale of allegedly misrepresented residential mortgage-backed securities. This is the largest non-healthcare-related recovery ever obtained in a suit alleging violations of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.
 
The OAG's Consumer Protection Section was expanded and reorganized to aggressively enforce Virginia's consumer protection laws, provide exceptional customer service in resolving complaints and disputes, and provide robust consumer education to keep Virginians from being victimized by fraud, scams, or illegal or abusive business practices.
 
Virginia successfully led the negotiation of a settlement between 49 states plus the District of Columbia and retailer USA Discounters to resolve the states' claims of deceptive trade practices by the company against its customer base of largely military families and veterans. The settlement will result in nearly $100 million of forgiven debt and restitution nationwide, including more than $10.5 million to more than 8,000 Virginia customers. This is the largest multistate consumer settlement ever led by Virginia.
 
Attorney General Herring also formally announced the creation of Virginia's first ever Patent Troll Unit to protect Virginia businesses from patent trolls that force high-tech and Main Street businesses to choose between paying unjustified licensing fees and engaging in costly litigation.
 
Virginia will receive more than $100 million and qualified Virginia VW owners will receive tens of millions more in direct compensation under the terms of a settlement addressing Volkswagen's illegal modification of the emissions systems of certain vehicles and violations of  state laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices.
 
 
Promoting Safe, Fair, 21st Century Policing and Strengthening Community Relations
 
Attorney General Herring and his team trained more than 125 officers in 50 agencies to train their colleagues on fair and impartial policing, including implicit bias awareness.
 
Through his "Virginia Rules" program, Attorney General Herring launched launch of "Give It, Get It: Trust and Respect between Teens and Law Enforcement," a new program to help ensure safe, mutually respectful interactions between Virginia teens and law enforcement. The program educates teens on their rights and responsibilities when interacting with law enforcement, and helps keep situations from unnecessarily escalating in a way that might result in needless charges or even endanger the safety of an officer or young person.
 
 
Fighting Human Trafficking in Virginia
 
The OAG's groundbreaking digital campaign against human trafficking was honored by the Virginia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and the Diamond BrillIAAnt Use of Mobile Award by the International Advertising Association's New York chapter.
 
Virginia formalized a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign to provide training and community resources for combating human trafficking.
 
A $1.45 million grant secured by Attorney General Herring and Hampton Roads law enforcement and victims' service providers will allow for the creation and operation of the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force.
 
 
Preventing Domestic and Sexual Violence and Supporting Survivors
 
Testing began on more than 2,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits thanks to a $1.4 million grant secured by Attorney General Herring. The testing project will clear out a backlog of untested rape kits in local law enforcement agencies, some of which have been untested for decades.
 
The General Assembly passed recommendation from the Campus Sexual Violence Task Force, chaired by AG Herring, to improve the way Virginia colleges and universities work to prevent and respond to sexual violence. 
 
Lethality Assessment Protocol, a life-saving tool to prevent domestic homicide, continued to be implemented in localities across Virginia, and a new partnership with Verizon Wireless included the donation of 500 mobile phones to further implementation.
 
 
Protecting Women's Health
 
Attorney General Herring fought on the winning side of the case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, successfully arguing with fellow states that certain restrictions imposed on abortion clinics by the state of Texas were medically unnecessary and created an unconstitutional burden on women.
 
 
Defending Environmental and Economic Assets
 
Attorney General Herring and his team negotiated the largest environmental damages settlement in Virginia history, and the 8th largest in the history of the United States. DuPont will pay approximately $50 million for mercury contamination in western Virginia waterways.
 
AG Herring and his team worked to protect the health, water, and bottom lines of citizens and communities in Southwest Virginia by winning financial investments and environmental upgrades from Southern Coal and Alpha Natural Resources.
 
Virginia was the first Chesapeake Bay state to defend the Bay Cleanup Plan in federal court, and in June, the Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit challenging the plan, effectively ending a suit supported by out of state special interests and non-Bay state attorneys general that threatened to end the Cleanup Plan.
 
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