RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — You may recall last May when 8News exposed thousands of crime victims not getting their court-ordered money, even when the bad guys pay up.
Our investigation has prompted a proposed bill to make sure victims get the money their due. On Friday that bill moved forward.
“With the help of Kerri O’Brien, who is the TV reporter we sort of tracked down these issues,” Delegate Rob Bell told the House Courts of Justice Sub-Committee.
Bell was disturbed to learn 8News had uncovered that in the just last three years, there were more than a million dollars in court-ordered restitution paid by the criminals that had not been distributed the victims.
Since the reports, Bell has dug even deeper and on Friday revealed there’s an even bigger pot of money belonging to victims sitting in the hands of the government.
“What we have found is since 2003, $8 million has been transmitted from the clerks to the CICF, and of that, a very modest amount has been distributed: Only $400,000,” Bell said. “So, it sits there in CICF undistributed, it’s grotesque.”
CICF stands for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, also known as the Virginia Victims Fund.
8News was asked to share with state lawmakers what we uncovered. 8News investigator Kerri O’Brien told the committee the court clerks said they couldn’t locate the victims. But 8News was able to. Several people were located in a matter of minutes. 8News found there was a bigger issue.
“Really, there is no one out there looking for these victims,” O’Brien told lawmakers.
Delegate Bell is proposing a bill that would give manpower to the search.
“We are going to hire two people who wake up each day, get in the office at 8:30 and say, ‘how can I find people on this list?” Bell said.
Bell’s bill unanimously passed in the sub-committee.
The measure would cost some money, about $173,000 the first year and $148,000 thereafter. The money covers salaries, office supplies and furniture.
The bill will have to go on to the House Appropriations Committee.