Under the plan, $230 million will be divided amongst the Rhode Island law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation of Google. Another $100 million will go to Federal agencies, and the remaining $170 million will go to the Department of Justice’s Assets Forfeiture Fund. This national account is used to pay for any necessary expenses associated with forfeiture operations.
“We take great pride in the significance and impact of this investigation, which included an unprecedented asset forfeiture of $500 million dollars,” said Kathleen Martin-Weis, Acting Director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, in a statement. “These funds will provide much needed resources to our partner state and local law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island, to support future investigative efforts.”
The investigation found that Google, despite knowing that Canadian pharmacies selling to U.S. consumers was illegal, continued to sell ads to these pharmacies, though it was able to block pharmacies from other countries. Additionally, Google provided customer service to some of these advertisers. Google was also aware, according to law enforcement, that some of these pharmacies dispensed drugs after an online consultation with a doctor, rather than an actual office visit.
The money will be distributed to the agencies when they’ve submitted plans for law enforcement uses of it. The Equitable Sharing Program is governed by the Department of Justice, which says the equitable sharing of funds must be determined based upon the time and resources each agency provided to the investigation.