The check may have been fake, but the money is real.
Harris & Harris presented a ceremonial check in the amount of $12,168,000 to Winnebago County, Ill., yesterday, representing the amount the agency has recovered on behalf of the county in the past six years.
The agency has been collecting unpaid court fees and fines for six years for the county, and the state’s attorney held a press conference yesterday to applaud the agency for its efforts.
“It is our firm belief that all the citizens meet their legal obligations to the court system,” said Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato. “This partnership has been successful because of the hard work of Harris & Harris and the criminal justice partners.”
Bruscato noted during the press conference that the county does not pay any fees or commissions to Harris & Harris; the agency charges individuals making payments a fee that it keeps. Bruscato described the agency’s efforts as “excellent fine and fee collection activity.”
The county held a similar press conference in April 2016, to announce that $8 million had been recovered as a result of the partnership with Harris & Harris. The agency has recovered nearly $4 million in the ensuing 30 months. At the time, Bruscato noted that Harris & Harris had boosted the recovery rate by 70% compared with the county’s efforts prior to partnering with the agency. The partnership had been so successful that the agency had established an office in the county’s Public Safety Building.