Cuccinelli to use settlement for human trafficking victims, prosecutors

POSTED: 7:05 AM Jan 09 2014   UPDATED: 12:17 PM Jan 09 2014

Virginia's Attorney General announces plans to use part of a $1.5 billion national medical fraud settlement with Abbott Laboratories in 2012. 

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he hopes to use the funds to help local prosecutors, as well as victims of human trafficking.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will announce the creation of a $20 million endowment Thursday to benefit the state's 739 prosecutors. Interest on the endowment will fund mandatory training for prosecutors that typically is paid by localities or individual prosecutors.

Cuccinelli will detail the endowment at a Richmond news conference attended by prosecutors.

Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli is also seeking to use $6 million to create shelters for human trafficking victims.

Cuccinelli is asking the U.S. Department of Treasury to use a portion of the state's share of the settlement for the shelters and intensive counseling programs.

He says criminal investigators have a difficult time obtaining victim testimony and the evidence necessary to prosecute the traffickers if the victims don't get counseling and have a safe place away from traffickers.

Cuccinelli expects an answer from the U.S. Treasury in the coming weeks.

The money would be transferred to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, which would administer a competitive grant program to create the shelters and counseling programs.

Virginia received $115 million from the Abbott settlement with state and federal governments. The agreement settled allegations that Abbott promoted the drug Depakote for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Law enforcement agencies across Virginia are already sharing $33 million of the settlement to pay for new equipment and training.