Many forfeitures of assets to the Federal Government are conditions included in standard plea agreements to criminal charges in the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division. So some have asked: How can someone Forfeit Most of their Assets in Federal Court? Let me walk you though an actual case we reviewed in Tampa. I did not represent this now broke person who now lives in a Federal Prison.
Ironically, after agreeing to give up everything he owned, the defendant filed a claim in Federal Court trying to retrieve his money, other assets and a rather nice Bentley automobile. Good luck with that claim. Here is how to lose all of your stuff through an agreement with the Federal Government.
- Commit and plead to a federal indictment that includes forfeiture provisions that usually read like this: The defendant agrees to forfeit to the United States immediately and voluntarily any and all assets and property, or portions thereof, subject to forfeiture, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Sections 981(a)(l)(C) and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2461(c), whether in the possession or control of the United States or in the possession or control of the defendant or defendant’s nominees. The assets to be forfeited specifically include, but are not limited to, the following: a forfeiture money judgment of at least $1,176,787.00. representing the total amount.
- Have a list like this one included in your plea agreement: “Items Seized from the Defendant Approximately $118,275.00 stored on 143 Green Dot and Wal-Mart Money cards; 2005 Bentley GT, Baranato Green, VIN SCBCR63W25C026307; 18 Karat Gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day Date Watch with a Diamond Dial; 14 Karat Gold Necklace with “RS’Pendant with 703 Diamonds; 14 Karat Gold Double Cuban Link Chrome Chain; 14 Karat Gold Men’s Ring with 1 10 Diamonds; 14 Karat Gold and Diamond Men’s Bracelet with 2,420 Round Diamonds; 14 Karat Gold Men’s Square Ring with 54 Round Diamonds; KC Stainless Steel Men’s Watch with 57 Diamonds; KC Stainless Steel Men’s Watch with 33 Diamonds; and approximately $25,000.00 in U.S. Currency; approximately $22,580 in U.S. Currency.
- Agree and Consent to the following: defendant “agrees and consents to the forfeiture of these assets pursuant to any federal criminal, civil, andfor administrative forfeiture action. The defendant also hereby agrees that the forfeiture described herein is not excessive and, in any event, the defendant waives any constitutional claims that the defendant may have that the forfeiture constitutes an excessive fine.
- Agree that the property is related to the offense charged: “The defendant admits and agrees that the conduct described in the Factual Basis below provides a sufficient factual and statutory basis for the forfeiture of the property sought by the government. Pursuant to the provisions of Rule 32.2(b)(l), the United States and the defendant request that at the time of accepting this ptea agreement, the court make a determination that the government has established the requisite nexus between the property subject to forfeiture and the offense(s) to which defendant is pleading guilty and enter a preliminary order of forfeiture. Pursuant to Rule 32.2(b)(4), the defendant agrees that the preliminary order of forfeiture shall be final as to the defendant at the time it is entered, notwithstanding the requirement that it be made a part of the sentence and be included in the judgment.
- Agree to help the feds find all of your stuff: “Defendant further agrees to take all steps necessary to locate property and to pass title to the United States before the defendant’s sentencing. To that end, defendant agrees to fully assist the government in the recovery and return to the United States of any assets, or portions thereof, as described above wherever located. The defendant agrees to make a full and complete disclosure of all assets over which defendant exercises control and those which are held or controlled by a nominee. The defendant further agrees to be polygraphed on the issue of assets, if it is deemed necessary….”
- Agree that the feds can go after other stuff too: ” The defendant agrees that the United States is not limited to forfeiture of the property described above. If the United States determines that property of the defendant identified for forfeiture cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence; has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third party; has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the Court; has been substantially diminished in value; or has been commingled with other property which cannot be divided without difficulty; then the United States shall, at its option, be entitled to forfeiture of any other property (substitute assets) of the defendant.
- Agree to the Facts of the case like this: “Defendant is pleading guilty because defendant is in fact guilty. The defendant certifies that defendant does hereby admit that the facts set forth below are true, and were this case to go to trial, the United States would be able to prove those specific facts and others beyond a reasonable doubt: . . . From at least in or about March 201 1, through the present, [The Defendant who was Indicted], in part through his car dealership known as “[Name of your Business here],” engaged in a scheme and artifice to defraud the U.S. Treasury Department, commonly known as “Turbo Tax Fraud,” by filing fraudulent income tax returns and negotiating fraudulent federal income tax refunds. During the summer of 2011, law enforcement received multiple tips that [Defendant who was charged with a federal Crime] was engaging in tax fraud at his business, [Your Business Name Here]. The sources stated that [Soon to be Broke Defendant who agreed to all this] sold automobiles to buyers who paid him with United States Treasury checks obtained from the filing of fraudulent federal income tax returns. The sources advised that the fraudulently obtained Treasury checks [Name Deleted} received were for a much higher value than the sales price of the vehicles sold. Simmons then negotiated the checks and laundered the proceeds through his business accounts. Sources also stated that [defendant] filed fraudulent tax returns from his computer located at his business, . . . and maintained a ledger that contained numerous personal identifiers associated with the filing of fraudulent tax returns such as names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of identity theft victims. The sources further stated that Simmons would frequently possess multiple Treasury checks or prepaid debit cards in names other than his own and would place the proceeds from the negotiated checks and debit cards into his business account(s).
- Have your Buddy Cooperate with the Feds Like This: “On or about July 12,201 1, a cooperating defendant (CD) wearing a concealed digital audio recorder traveled to …the Middle District of Florida, and met . . advised the CD to bring him . . . Green Dot cards and he would take care of the rest.”
- Get videotaped in your scheme; “Surveillance video captured . . . using a pre-paid debit card [and on another date] captured on video . . . making an ATM withdrawal using the card [and then] was captured on video using a money machine at at 1208 East Brandon Blvd, Brandon, in the Middle District of Florida.”
- Have Zero Chance of Getting Your Stuff Back Later.