Westchester launches campaign to locate victims owed restitution

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YONKERS -

Westchester County has launched a new campaign to locate victims who are owed restitution.

Judges in New York typically demand that offenders pay restitution money to victims for things like medical bills, counseling, stolen property and lost time at work.

However, a News 12 Turn to Tara investigation has revealed that more than 1,000 crime victims in Westchester have not been paid the millions in restitution money that's owed to them.

The investigation revealed that there are roughly 1,400 people owed an estimated $4 million in Westchester alone, which means that 66 cents of every dollar collected by county police has gone unclaimed.

“We have the money and we want to give it away," says Probation Department Commissioner Rocco A. Pozzi.

Pozzi says his office recently launched a campaign to locate the victims owed money, sending out hundreds of letters across the county to try and track people down after initial notifications mailed to their homes got no response.

So far, he says that they received 825 responses, totaling $375,000.

The victims of serious crimes could be owed amounts ranging from a few hundred dollars to up to $25,000 a piece.

Other states have agencies to relocate crime victims through email and social media. In New York, the burden is on the victims to keep their contact information up to date.

If they don’t, the money collected is eventually given to other victims who “have” been found but their offenders have not paid up.

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