Rule 32.2 Criminal Forfeiture
(a) Notice to the Defendant. A court must not enter a judgment of forfeiture in a criminal proceeding unless the indictment or information contains notice to the defendant that the government will seek the forfeiture of property as part of any sentence in accordance with the applicable statute. The notice should not be designated as a count of the indictment or information. The indictment or information need not identify the property subject to forfeiture or specify the amount of any forfeiture money judgment that the government seeks.
(1) Forfeiture Phase of the Trial.
(A) Forfeiture Determinations. As soon as practical after a verdict or finding of guilty, or after a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is accepted, on any count in an indictment or information regarding which criminal forfeiture is sought, the court must determine what property is subject to forfeiture under the applicable statute. If the government seeks forfeiture of specific property, the court must determine whether the government has established the requisite nexus between the property and the offense. If the government seeks a personal money judgment, the court must determine the amount of money that the defendant will be ordered to pay.
(B) Evidence and Hearing. The court's determination may be based on evidence already in the record, including any written plea agreement, and on any additional evidence or information submitted by the parties and accepted by the court as relevant and reliable. If the forfeiture is contested, on either party's request the court must conduct a hearing after the verdict or finding of guilty.
(2) Preliminary Order.
(A) Contents of a Specific Order. If the court finds that property is subject to forfeiture, it must promptly enter a preliminary order of forfeiture setting forth the amount of any money judgment, directing the forfeiture of specific property, and directing the forfeiture of any substitute property if the government has met the statutory criteria. The court must enter the order without regard to any third party's interest in the property. Determining whether a third party has such an interest must be deferred until any third party files a claim in an ancillary proceeding under Rule 32.2(c).
(B) Timing. Unless doing so is impractical, the court must enter the preliminary order sufficiently in advance of sentencing to allow the parties to suggest revisions or modifications before the order becomes final as to the defendant under Rule 32.2(b)(4).
(C) General Order. If, before sentencing, the court cannot identify all the specific property subject to forfeiture or calculate the total amount of the money judgment, the court may enter a forfeiture order that:
(i) lists any identified property;
(ii) describes other property in general terms; and
(iii) states that the order will be amended under Rule 32.2(e)(1) when additional specific property is identified or the amount of the money judgment has been calculated.
(3) Seizing Property. The entry of a preliminary order of forfeiture authorizes the Attorney General (or a designee) to seize the specific property subject to forfeiture; to conduct any discovery the court considers proper in identifying, locating, or disposing of the property; and to commence proceedings that comply with any statutes governing third-party rights. The court may include in the order of forfeiture conditions reasonably necessary to preserve the property's value pending any appeal.
(A) When Final. At sentencing—or at any time before sentencing if the defendant consents—the preliminary forfeiture order becomes final as to the defendant. If the order directs the defendant to forfeit specific property, it remains preliminary as to third parties until the ancillary proceeding is concluded under Rule 32.2(c).
(B) Notice and Inclusion in the Judgment. The court must include the forfeiture when orally announcing the sentence or must otherwise ensure that the defendant knows of the forfeiture at sentencing. The court must also include the forfeiture order, directly or by reference, in the judgment, but the court's failure to do so may be corrected at any time under Rule 36.
(C) Time to Appeal. The time for the defendant or the government to file an appeal from the forfeiture order, or from the court's failure to enter an order, begins to run when judgment is entered. If the court later amends or declines to amend a forfeiture order to include additional property under Rule 32.2(e), the defendant or the government may file an appeal regarding that property under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 (b). The time for that appeal runs from the date when the order granting or denying the amendment becomes final.
(5) Jury Determination.
(A) Retaining the Jury. In any case tried before a jury, if the indictment or information states that the government is seeking forfeiture, the court must determine before the jury begins deliberating whether either party requests that the jury be retained to determine the forfeitability of specific property if it returns a guilty verdict.
(B) Special Verdict Form. If a party timely requests to have the jury determine forfeiture, the government must submit a proposed Special Verdict Form listing each property subject to forfeiture and asking the jury to determine whether the government has established the requisite nexus between the property and the offense committed by the defendant.
(6) Notice of the Forfeiture Order.
(A) Publishing and Sending Notice. If the court orders the forfeiture of specific property, the government must publish notice of the order and send notice to any person who reasonably appears to be a potential claimant with standing to contest the forfeiture in the ancillary proceeding.
(B) Content of the Notice. The notice must describe the forfeited property, state the times under the applicable statute when a petition contesting the forfeiture must be filed, and state the name and contact information for the government attorney to be served with the petition.
(C) Means of Publication; Exceptions to Publication Requirement. Publication must take place as described in Supplemental Rule G(4)(a)(iii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and may be by any means described in Supplemental Rule G(4)(a)(iv). Publication is unnecessary if any exception in Supplemental Rule G(4)(a)(i) applies.
(D) Means of Sending the Notice. The notice may be sent in accordance with Supplemental Rules G(4)(b)(iii)–(v) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(7) Interlocutory Sale. At any time before entry of a final forfeiture order, the court, in accordance with Supplemental Rule G(7) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, may order the interlocutory sale of property alleged to be forfeitable.
(1) In General. If, as prescribed by statute, a third party files a petition asserting an interest in the property to be forfeited, the court must conduct an ancillary proceeding, but no ancillary proceeding is required to the extent that the forfeiture consists of a money judgment.
(A) In the ancillary proceeding, the court may, on motion, dismiss the petition for lack of standing, for failure to state a claim, or for any other lawful reason. For purposes of the motion, the facts set forth in the petition are assumed to be true.
(B) After disposing of any motion filed under Rule 32.2(c)(1)(A) and before conducting a hearing on the petition, the court may permit the parties to conduct discovery in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if the court determines that discovery is necessary or desirable to resolve factual issues. When discovery ends, a party may move for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
(2) Entering a Final Order. When the ancillary proceeding ends, the court must enter a final order of forfeiture by amending the preliminary order as necessary to account for any third-party rights. If no third party files a timely petition, the preliminary order becomes the final order of forfeiture if the court finds that the defendant (or any combination of defendants convicted in the case) had an interest in the property that is forfeitable under the applicable statute. The defendant may not object to the entry of the final order on the ground that the property belongs, in whole or in part, to a codefendant or third party; nor may a third party object to the final order on the ground that the third party had an interest in the property.
(3) Multiple Petitions. If multiple third-party petitions are filed in the same case, an order dismissing or granting one petition is not appealable until rulings are made on all the petitions, unless the court determines that there is no just reason for delay.
(4) Ancillary Proceeding Not Part of Sentencing. An ancillary proceeding is not part of sentencing.
(d) Stay Pending Appeal. If a defendant appeals from a conviction or an order of forfeiture, the court may stay the order of forfeiture on terms appropriate to ensure that the property remains available pending appellate review. A stay does not delay the ancillary proceeding or the determination of a third party's rights or interests. If the court rules in favor of any third party while an appeal is pending, the court may amend the order of forfeiture but must not transfer any property interest to a third party until the decision on appeal becomes final, unless the defendant consents in writing or on the record.
(A) is subject to forfeiture under an existing order of forfeiture but was located and identified after that order was entered; or
(B) is substitute property that qualifies for forfeiture under an applicable statute.
(2) Procedure. If the government shows that the property is subject to forfeiture under Rule 32.2(e)(1), the court must:
(A) enter an order forfeiting that property, or amend an existing preliminary or final order to include it; and
(B) if a third party files a petition claiming an interest in the property, conduct an ancillary proceeding under Rule 32.2(c).
(3) Jury Trial Limited. There is no right to a jury trial under Rule 32.2(e).
(Added Apr. 17, 2000, eff. Dec. 1, 2000; amended Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002; Mar. 26, 2009, eff. Dec. 1, 2009.)
Committee Notes on Rules—2000
Rule 32.2 consolidates a number of procedural rules governing the forfeiture of assets in a criminal case. Existing Rules 7(c)(2), 31(e) and 32(d)(2) are also amended to conform to the new rule. In addition, the forfeiture-related provisions of Rule 38(e) are stricken.
Subdivision (a). Subdivision (a) is derived from Rule 7(c)(2) which provides that notwithstanding statutory authority for the forfeiture of property following a criminal conviction, no forfeiture order may be entered unless the defendant was given notice of the forfeiture in the indictment or information. As courts have held, subdivision (a) is not intended to require that an itemized list of the property to be forfeited appear in the indictment or information itself. The subdivision reflects the trend in caselaw interpreting present Rule 7(c). Under the most recent cases, Rule 7(c) sets forth a requirement that the government give the defendant notice that it will be seeking forfeiture in accordance with the applicable statute. It does not require a substantive allegation in which the property subject to forfeiture, or the defendant's interest in the property, must be described in detail. See United States v. DeFries, 129 F.3d 1293 (D.C.Cir. 1997) (it is not necessary to specify in either the indictment or a bill of particulars that the government is seeking forfeiture of a particular asset, such as the defendant's salary; to comply with Rule 7(c), the government need only put the defendant on notice that it will seek to forfeit everything subject to forfeiture under the applicable statute, such as all property “acquired or maintained” as a result of a RICO violation). See also United States v. Moffitt, Zwerling & Kemler, P.C., 83 F.3d 660, 665 (4th Cir. 1996), aff'g 846 F. Supp. 463 (E.D. Va. 1994) (Moffitt I) (indictment need not list each asset subject to forfeiture; under Rule 7(c), this can be done with bill of particulars); United States v. Voigt, 89 F.3d 1050 (3rd Cir. 1996) (court may amend order of forfeiture at any time to include substitute assets).
Subdivision (b). Subdivision (b) replaces Rule 31(e) which provides that the jury in a criminal case must return a special verdict “as to the extent of the interest or property subject to forfeiture.” See United States v. Saccoccia, 58 F.3d 754 (1st Cir. 1995) (Rule 31(e) only applies to jury trials; no special verdict required when defendant waives right to jury on forfeiture issues).
One problem under Rule 31(e) concerns the scope of the determination that must be made prior to entering an order of forfeiture. This issue is the same whether the determination is made by the court or by the jury.
As mentioned, the current rule requires the jury to return a special verdict “as to the extent of the interest or property subject to forfeiture.” Some courts interpret this to mean only that the jury must answer “yes” or “no” when asked if the property named in the indictment is subject to forfeiture under the terms of the forfeiture statute— e.g. was the property used to facilitate a drug offense? Other courts also ask the jury if the defendant has a legal interest in the forfeited property. Still other courts, including the Fourth Circuit, require the jury to determine the extent of the defendant's interest in the property vis a vis third parties. See United States v. Ham, 58 F.3d 78 (4th Cir. 1995) (case remanded to the district court to impanel a jury to determine, in the first instance, the extent of the defendant's forfeitable interest in the subject property).
The notion that the “extent” of the defendant's interest must be established as part of the criminal trial is related to the fact that criminal forfeiture is an in personam action in which only the defendant's interest in the property may be forfeited. United States v. Riley, 78 F.3d 367 (8th Cir. 1996). When the criminal forfeiture statutes were first enacted in the 1970's, it was clear that a forfeiture of property other than the defendant's could not occur in a criminal case, but there was no mechanism designed to limit the forfeiture to the defendant's interest. Accordingly, Rule 31(e) was drafted to make a determination of the “extent” of the defendant's interest part of the verdict.
The problem is that third parties who might have an interest in the forfeited property are not parties to the criminal case. At the same time, a defendant who has no interest in property has no incentive, at trial, to dispute the government's forfeiture allegations. Thus, it was apparent by the 1980's that Rule 31(e) was an inadequate safeguard against the inadvertent forfeiture of property in which the defendant held no interest.
In 1984, Congress addressed this problem when it enacted a statutory scheme whereby third party interests in criminally forfeited property are litigated by the court in an ancillary proceeding following the conclusion of the criminal case and the entry of a preliminary order of forfeiture. See 21 U.S.C. §853(n); 18 U.S.C. §1963 (l). Under this scheme, the court orders the forfeiture of the defendant's interest in the property—whatever that interest may be—in the criminal case. At that point, the court conducts a separate proceeding in which all potential third party claimants are given an opportunity to challenge the forfeiture by asserting a superior interest in the property. This proceeding does not involve relitigation of the forfeitability of the property; its only purpose is to determine whether any third party has a legal interest in the forfeited property.
The notice provisions regarding the ancillary proceeding are equivalent to the notice provisions that govern civil forfeitures. Compare 21 U.S.C. §853(n)(1) with 19 U.S.C. §1607(a); see United States v. Bouler, 927 F. Supp. 911 (W.D.N.C. 1996) (civil notice rules apply to ancillary criminal proceedings). Notice is published and sent to third parties that have a potential interest. See United States v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) S.A. (In re Petition of Indosuez Bank), 916 F. Supp. 1276 (D.D.C. 1996) (discussing steps taken by government to provide notice of criminal forfeiture to third parties). If no one files a claim, or if all claims are denied following a hearing, the forfeiture becomes final and the United States is deemed to have clear title to the property. 21 U.S.C. §853(n)(7); United States v. Hentz, 1996 WL 355327 (E.D. Pa. June 20, 1996) (once third party fails to file a claim in the ancillary proceeding, government has clear title under §853(n)(7) and can market the property notwithstanding third party's name on the deed).
Thus, the ancillary proceeding has become the forum for determining the extent of the defendant's forfeitable interest in the property. This allows the court to conduct a proceeding in which all third party claimants can participate and which ensures that the property forfeited actually belongs to the defendant.
Since the enactment of the ancillary proceeding statutes, the requirement in Rule 31(e) that the court (or jury) determine the extent of the defendant's interest in the property as part of the criminal trial has become an unnecessary anachronism that leads more often than not to duplication and a waste of judicial resources. There is no longer any reason to delay the conclusion of the criminal trial with a lengthy hearing over the extent of the defendant's interest in property when the same issues will have to be litigated a second time in the ancillary proceeding if someone files a claim challenging the forfeiture. For example, in United States v. Messino, 917 F. Supp. 1307 (N.D. Ill. 1996), the court allowed the defendant to call witnesses to attempt to establish that they, not he, were the true owners of the property. After the jury rejected this evidence and the property was forfeited, the court conducted an ancillary proceeding in which the same witnesses litigated their claims to the same property.
A more sensible procedure would be for the court, once it (or a jury) determines that property was involved in the criminal offense for which the defendant has been convicted, to order the forfeiture of whatever interest a defendant may have in the property without having to determine exactly what that interest is. If third parties assert that they have an interest in all or part of the property, those interests can be adjudicated at one time in the ancillary proceeding.
This approach would also address confusion that occurs in multi-defendant cases where it is clear that each defendant should forfeit whatever interest he may have in the property used to commit the offense, but it is not at all clear which defendant is the actual owner of the property. For example, suppose A and B are co-defendants in a drug and money laundering case in which the government seeks to forfeit property involved in the scheme that is held in B's name but of which A may be the true owner. It makes no sense to invest the court's time in determining which of the two defendants holds the interest that should be forfeited. Both defendants should forfeit whatever interest they may have. Moreover, if under the current rule the court were to find that A is the true owner of the property, then B would have the right to file a claim in the ancillary proceeding where he may attempt to recover the property despite his criminal conviction. United States v. Real Property in Waterboro, 64 F.3d 752 (1st Cir. 1995) (co-defendant in drug/money laundering case who is not alleged to be the owner of the property is considered a third party for the purpose of challenging the forfeiture of the other co-defendant's interest).
The new rule resolves these difficulties by postponing the determination of the extent of the defendant's interest until the ancillary proceeding. As provided in (b)(1), the court, as soon as practicable after the verdict or finding of guilty in the criminal case, would determine if the property was subject to forfeiture in accordance with the applicable statute, e.g., whether the property represented the proceeds of the offense, was used to facilitate the offense, or was involved in the offense in some other way. The determination could be made based on the evidence in the record from the criminal trial or the facts set forth in a written plea agreement submitted to the court at the time of the defendant's guilty plea, or the court could hold a hearing to determine if the requisite relationship existed between the property and the offense. Subdivision (b)(2) provides that it is not necessary to determine at this stage what interest any defendant might have in the property. Instead, the court would order the forfeiture of whatever interest each defendant might have in the property and conduct the ancillary proceeding.
Subdivision (b)(1) recognizes that there are different kinds of forfeiture judgments in criminal cases. One type is a personal judgment for a sum of money; another is a judgment forfeiting a specific asset. See, e.g., United States v. Voigt, 89 F.3d 1050 (3d Cir. 1996) (government is entitled to a personal money judgment equal to the amount involved in the money laundering offense, as well as order forfeiting specific assets involved in, or traceable to, the offense; in addition, if the statutory requirements are met, the government may be entitled to forfeit substitute assets); United States v. Cleveland, 1997 WL 537707 (E.D. La. Aug. 26, 1997), modified, 1997 WL 602186 (E.D. La. Sept. 29, 1997) (government entitled to a money judgment equal to the amount of money defendant laundered in money laundering case). The finding the court is required to make will depend on the nature of the forfeiture judgment. A number of cases have approved use of money judgment forfeitures. The Committee takes no position on the correctness of those rulings.
To the extent that the government is seeking forfeiture of a particular asset, such as the money on deposit in a particular bank account that is alleged to be the proceeds of a criminal offense, or a parcel of land that is traceable to that offense, the court must find that the government has established the requisite nexus between the property and the offense. To the extent that the government is seeking a money judgment, such as a judgment for the amount of money derived from a drug trafficking offense or the amount involved in a money laundering offense where the actual property subject to forfeiture has not been found or is unavailable, the court must determine the amount of money that the defendant should be ordered to forfeit.
The court may make the determination based on evidence in the record, or on additional evidence submitted by the defendant or evidence submitted by the government in support of the motion for the entry of a judgment of forfeiture. The defendant would have no standing to object to the forfeiture on the ground that the property belonged to someone else.
Under subdivision (b)(2), if the court finds that property is forfeitable, it must enter a preliminary order of forfeiture. It also recognizes that any determination of a third person's interest in the property is deferred until an ancillary proceeding, if any, is held under subdivision (c).
Subdivision (b)(3) replaces Rule 32(d)(2) (effective December 1996). It provides that once the court enters a preliminary order of forfeiture directing the forfeiture of whatever interest each defendant may have in the forfeited property, the government may seize the property and commence an ancillary proceeding to determine the interests of any third party. The subdivision also provides that the Attorney General may designate someone outside of the Department of Justice to seize forfeited property. This is necessary because in cases in which the lead investigative agency is in the Treasury Department, for example, the seizure of the forfeited property is typically handled by agencies other than the Department of Justice.
If no third party files a claim, the court, at the time of sentencing, will enter a final order forfeiting the property in accordance with subdivision (c)(2), discussed infra. If a third party files a claim, the order of forfeiture will become final as to the defendant at the time of sentencing but will be subject to amendment in favor of a third party pending the conclusion of the ancillary proceeding.
Because the order of forfeiture becomes final as to the defendant at the time of sentencing, his right to appeal from that order begins to run at that time. As courts have held, because the ancillary hearing has no bearing on the defendant's right to the property, the defendant has no right to appeal when a final order is, or is not, amended to recognize third party rights. See, e.g., United States v. Christunas, 126 F.3d 765 (6th Cir. 1997) (preliminary order of forfeiture is final as to the defendant and is immediately appealable).
Because it is not uncommon for sentencing to be postponed for an extended period to allow a defendant to cooperate with the government in an ongoing investigation, the rule would allow the order of forfeiture to become final as to the defendant before sentencing, if the defendant agrees to that procedure. Otherwise, the government would be unable to dispose of the property until the sentencing took place.
Subdivision (b)(4) addresses the right of either party to request that a jury make the determination of whether any property is subject to forfeiture. The provision gives the defendant, in all cases where a jury has returned a guilty verdict, the option of asking that the jury be retained to hear additional evidence regarding the forfeitability of the property. The only issue for the jury in such cases would be whether the government has established the requisite nexus between the property and the offense. For example, if the defendant disputes the government's allegation that a parcel of real property is traceable to the offense, the defendant would have the right to request that the jury hear evidence on that issue, and return a special verdict, in a bifurcated proceeding that would occur after the jury returns the guilty verdict. The government would have the same option of requesting a special jury verdict on this issue, as is the case under current law. See Rule 23(a) (trial by jury may be waived only with the consent of the government).
When Rule 31(e) was promulgated, it was assumed that criminal forfeiture was akin to a separate criminal offense on which evidence would be presented and the jury would have to return a verdict. In Libretti v. United States, 516 U.S. 29 (1995), however, the Supreme Court held that criminal forfeiture constitutes an aspect of the sentence imposed in a criminal case and that the defendant has no constitutional right to have the jury determine any part of the forfeiture. The special verdict requirement in Rule 31(e), the Court said, is in the nature of a statutory right that can be modified or repealed at any time.
Even before Libretti, lower courts had determined that criminal forfeiture is a sentencing matter and concluded that criminal trials therefore should be bifurcated so that the jury first returns a verdict on guilt or innocence and then returns to hear evidence regarding the forfeiture. In the second part of the bifurcated proceeding, the jury is instructed that the government must establish the forfeitability of the property by a preponderance of the evidence. See United States v. Myers, 21 F.3d 826 (8th Cir. 1994) (preponderance standard applies because criminal forfeiture is part of the sentence in money laundering cases); United States v. Voigt, 89 F.3d 1050 (3rd Cir. 1996) (following Myers); United States v. Smith, 966 F.2d 1045, 1050–53 (6th Cir. 1992) (same for drug cases); United States v. Bieri, 21 F.3d 819 (8th Cir. 1994) (same).
Although an argument could be made under Libretti, that a jury trial is no longer appropriate on any aspect of the forfeiture issue, which is a part of sentencing, the Committee decided to retain the right for the parties, in a trial held before a jury, to have the jury determine whether the government has established the requisite statutory nexus between the offense and the property to be forfeited. The jury, however, would not have any role in determining whether a defendant had an interest in the property to be forfeited. This is a matter for the ancillary proceeding which, by statute, is conducted “before the court alone, without a jury.” See 21 U.S.C. §853(n)(2).
Subdivision (c). Subdivision (c) sets forth a set of rules governing the conduct of the ancillary proceeding. When the ancillary hearing provisions were added to 18 U.S.C. §1963 and 21 U.S.C. §853 in 1984, Congress apparently assumed that the proceedings under the new provisions would involve simple questions of ownership that could, in the ordinary case, be resolved in 30 days. See 18 U.S.C. §1963 (l)(4). Presumably for that reason, the statute contains no procedures governing motions practice or discovery such as would be available in an ordinary civil case. Subdivision (c)(1) makes clear that no ancillary proceeding is required to the extent that the order of forfeiture consists of a money judgment. A money judgment is an in personam judgment against the defendant and not an order directed at specific assets in which any third party could have any interest.
Experience has shown that ancillary hearings can involve issues of enormous complexity that require years to resolve. See United States v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) S.A., 833 F. Supp. 9 (D.D.C. 1993) (ancillary proceeding involving over 100 claimants and $451 million); United States v. Porcelli, CR–85–00756 (CPS), 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17928 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 5, 1992) (litigation over third party claim continuing 6 years after RICO conviction). In such cases, procedures akin to those available under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure should be available to the court and the parties to aid in the efficient resolution of the claims.
Because an ancillary hearing is connected to a criminal case, it would not be appropriate to make the Civil Rules applicable in all respects. The amendment, however, describes several fundamental areas in which procedures analogous to those in the Civil Rules may be followed. These include the filing of a motion to dismiss a claim, conducting discovery, disposing of a claim on a motion for summary judgment, and appealing a final disposition of a claim. Where applicable, the amendment follows the prevailing case law on the issue. See, e.g., United States v. Lavin, 942 F.2d 177 (3rd Cir. 1991) (ancillary proceeding treated as civil case for purposes of applying Rules of Appellate Procedure); United States v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) S.A. (In re Petitions of General Creditors), 919 F. Supp. 31 (D.D.C. 1996) (“If a third party fails to allege in its petition all elements necessary for recovery, including those relating to standing, the court may dismiss the petition without providing a hearing”); United States v. BCCI (Holdings) Luxembourg S.A. (In re Petition of Department of Private Affairs), 1993 WL 760232 (D.D.C. Dec. 8, 1993) (applying court's inherent powers to permit third party to obtain discovery from defendant in accordance with civil rules). The provision governing appeals in cases where there are multiple claims is derived from Fed. R. Civ. P. 54 (b). See also United States v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg) S.A. (Petition of Banque Indosuez), 961 F. Supp. 282 (D.D.C. 1997) (in resolving motion to dismiss court assumes all facts pled by third party petitioner to be true, applying Rule 12(b)(6) and denying government's motion because whether claimant had superior title turned on factual dispute; government acted reasonably in not making any discovery requests in ancillary proceeding until court ruled on its motion to dismiss).
Subdivision (c)(2) provides for the entry of a final order of forfeiture at the conclusion of the ancillary proceeding. Under this provision, if no one files a claim in the ancillary proceeding, the preliminary order would become the final order of forfeiture, but the court would first have to make an independent finding that at least one of the defendants had an interest in the property such that it was proper to order the forfeiture of the property in a criminal case. In making that determination, the court may rely upon reasonable inferences. For example, the fact that the defendant used the property in committing the crime and no third party claimed an interest in the property may give rise to the inference that the defendant had a forfeitable interest in the property.
This subdivision combines and preserves two established tenets of current law. One is that criminal forfeitures are in personam actions that are limited to the property interests of the defendant. (This distinguishes criminal forfeiture, which is imposed as part of the defendant's sentence, from civil forfeiture which may be pursued as an action against the property in rem without regard to who the owner may be.) The other tenet of current law is that if a third party has notice of the forfeiture but fails to file a timely claim, his or her interests are extinguished, and may not be recognized when the court enters the final order of forfeiture. See United States v. Hentz, 1996 WL 355327 (E.D. Pa. June 20, 1996) (once third party fails to file a claim in the ancillary proceeding, government has clear title under 21 U.S.C. §853(n)(7) and can market the property notwithstanding third party's name on the deed). In the rare event that a third party claims that he or she was not afforded adequate notice of a criminal forfeiture action, the person may file a motion under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to reopen the ancillary proceeding. See United States v. Bouler, 927 F. Supp. 911 (W.D.N.C. 1996) (Rule 60(b) is the proper means by which a third party may move to reopen an ancillary proceeding).
If no third parties assert their interests in the ancillary proceeding, the court must nonetheless determine that the defendant, or combination of defendants, had an interest in the property. Criminal defendants may be jointly and severally liable for the forfeiture of the entire proceeds of the criminal offense. See United States v. Hurley, 63 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 1995) (government can collect the proceeds only once, but subject to that cap, it can collect from any defendant so much of the proceeds as was foreseeable to that defendant); United States v. Cleveland, 1997 WL 602186 (E.D. La. Sept. 29, 1997) (same); United States v. McCarroll, 1996 WL 355371 at *9 (N.D. Ill. June 25, 1996) (following Hurley), aff'd sub nom. United States v. Jarrett, 133 F.3d 519 (7th Cir. 1998); United States v. DeFries, 909 F. Supp. 13, 19–20 (D.D.C. 1995) (defendants are jointly and severally liable even where government is able to determine precisely how much each defendant benefitted from the scheme), rev'd on other grounds, 129 F.3d 1293 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Therefore, the conviction of any of the defendants is sufficient to support the forfeiture of the entire proceeds of the offense, even if the defendants have divided the money among themselves.
As noted in (c)(4), the ancillary proceeding is not considered a part of sentencing. Thus, the Federal Rules of Evidence would apply to the ancillary proceeding, as is the case currently.
Subdivision (d). Subdivision (d) replaces the forfeiture provisions of Rule 38(e) which provide that the court may stay an order of forfeiture pending appeal. The purpose of the provision is to ensure that the property remains intact and unencumbered so that it may be returned to the defendant in the event the appeal is successful. Subdivision (d) makes clear, however, that a district court is not divested of jurisdiction over an ancillary proceeding even if the defendant appeals his or her conviction. This allows the court to proceed with the resolution of third party claims even as the appellate court considers the appeal. Otherwise, third parties would have to await the conclusion of the appellate process even to begin to have their claims heard. See United States v. Messino, 907 F. Supp. 1231 (N.D. Ill. 1995) (the district court retains jurisdiction over forfeiture matters while an appeal is pending).
Finally, subdivision (d) provides a rule to govern what happens if the court determines that a third-party claim should be granted but the defendant's appeal is still pending. The defendant is barred from filing a claim in the ancillary proceeding. See 18 U.S.C. §1963 (l)(2); 21 U.S.C. §853(n)(2). Thus, the court's determination, in the ancillary proceeding, that a third party has an interest in the property superior to that of the defendant cannot be binding on the defendant. So, in the event that the court finds in favor of the third party, that determination is final only with respect to the government's alleged interest. If the defendant prevails on appeal, he or she recovers the property as if no conviction or forfeiture ever took place. But if the order of forfeiture is affirmed, the amendment to the order of forfeiture in favor of the third party becomes effective.
Subdivision (e). Subdivision (e) makes clear, as courts have found, that the court retains jurisdiction to amend the order of forfeiture at any time to include subsequently located property which was originally included in the forfeiture order and any substitute property. See United States v. Hurley, 63 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 1995) (court retains authority to order forfeiture of substitute assets after appeal is filed); United States v. Voigt, 89 F.3d 1050 (3rd Cir. 1996) (following Hurley). Third parties, of course, may contest the forfeiture of substitute assets in the ancillary proceeding. See United States v. Lester, 85 F.3d 1409 (9th Cir. 1996).
Subdivision (e)(1) makes clear that the right to a bifurcated jury trial to determine whether the government has established the requisite nexus between the property and the offense, see (b)(4), does not apply to the forfeiture of substitute assets or to the addition of newly-discovered property to an existing order of forfeiture. It is well established in the case law that the forfeiture of substitute assets is solely an issue for the court. See United States v. Hurley, 63 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 1995) (court retains authority to order forfeiture of substitute assets after appeal is filed); United States v. Voigt, 89 F.3d 1050 (3d Cir. 1996) (following Hurley; court may amend order of forfeiture at any time to include substitute assets); United States v. Thompson, 837 F. Supp. 585 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) (court, not jury, orders forfeiture of substitute assets). As a practical matter, courts have also determined that they, not the jury, must determine the forfeitability of assets discovered after the trial is over and the jury has been dismissed. See United States v. Saccoccia, 898 F. Supp. 53 (D.R.I. 1995) (government may conduct post-trial discovery to determine location and identity of forfeitable assets; post-trial discovery resulted in discovery of gold bars buried in defendant's mother's backyard several years after the entry of an order directing the defendant to forfeit all property, up to $137 million, involved in his money laundering offense).
GAP Report—Rule 32.2. The Committee amended the rule to clarify several key points. First, subdivision (b) was redrafted to make it clear that if no third party files a petition to assert property rights, the trial court must determine whether the defendant has an interest in the property to be forfeited and the extent of that interest. As published, the rule would have permitted the trial judge to order the defendant to forfeit the property in its entirety if no third party filed a claim.
Second, Rule 32.2(c)(4) was added to make it clear that the ancillary proceeding is not a part of sentencing.
Third, the Committee clarified the procedures to be used if the government (1) discovers property subject to forfeiture after the court has entered an order of forfeiture and (2) seeks the forfeiture of “substitute” property under a statute authorizing such substitution.
Committee Notes on Rules—2002 Amendment
The language of Rule 32.2 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only.
Committee Notes on Rules—2009 Amendment
Subdivision (a). The amendment responds to some uncertainty regarding the form of the required notice that the government will seek forfeiture as part of the sentence, making it clear that the notice should not be designated as a separate count in an indictment or information. The amendment also makes it clear that the indictment or information need only provide general notice that the government is seeking forfeiture, without identifying the specific property being sought. This is consistent with the 2000 Committee Note, as well as many lower court decisions.
Although forfeitures are not charged as counts, the federal judiciary's Case Management and Electronic Case Files system should note that forfeiture has been alleged so as to assist the parties and the court in tracking the subsequent status of forfeiture allegations.
The court may direct the government to file a bill of particulars to inform the defendant of the identity of the property that the government is seeking to forfeit or the amount of any money judgment sought if necessary to enable the defendant to prepare a defense or to avoid unfair surprise. See, e.g., United States v. Moffitt, Zwerdling, & Kemler, P.C., 83 F.3d 660, 665 (4th Cir. 1996) (holding that the government need not list each asset subject to forfeiture in the indictment because notice can be provided in a bill of particulars); United States v. Vasquez-Ruiz, 136 F. Supp. 2d 941, 944 (N.D. Ill. 2001) (directing the government to identify in a bill of particulars, at least 30 days before trial, the specific items of property, including substitute assets, that it claims are subject to forfeiture); United States v. Best, 657 F. Supp. 1179, 1182 (N.D. Ill. 1987) (directing the government to provide a bill of particulars apprising the defendants as to the time periods during which they obtained the specified classes of property through their alleged racketeering activity and the interest in each of these properties that was allegedly obtained unlawfully). See also United States v. Columbo, 2006 WL 2012511 * 5 & n.13 (S.D. N.Y. 2006) (denying motion for bill of particulars and noting that government proposed sending letter detailing basis for forfeiture allegations).
Subdivision (b)(1). Rule 32.2(b)(1) sets forth the procedure for determining if property is subject to forfeiture. Subparagraph (A) is carried forward from the current Rule without change.
Subparagraph (B) clarifies that the parties may submit additional evidence relating to the forfeiture in the forfeiture phase of the trial, which may be necessary even if the forfeiture is not contested. Subparagraph (B) makes it clear that in determining what evidence or information should be accepted, the court should consider relevance and reliability. Finally, subparagraph (B) requires the court to hold a hearing when forfeiture is contested. The Committee foresees that in some instances live testimony will be needed to determine the reliability of proffered information. Cf. Rule 32.1(b)(1)(B)(iii) (providing the defendant in a proceeding for revocation of probation or supervised release with the opportunity, upon request, to question any adverse witness unless the judge determines this is not in the interest of justice).
Subdivision (b)(2)(A). Current Rule 32.2(b) provides the procedure for issuing a preliminary forfeiture order once the court finds that the government has established the nexus between the property and the offense (or the amount of the money judgment). The amendment makes clear that the preliminary order may include substitute assets if the government has met the statutory criteria.
Subdivision (b)(2)(B). This new subparagraph focuses on the timing of the preliminary forfeiture order, stating that the court should issue the order “sufficiently in advance of sentencing to allow the parties to suggest revisions or modifications before the order becomes final.” Many courts have delayed entry of the preliminary order until the time of sentencing. This is undesirable because the parties have no opportunity to advise the court of omissions or errors in the order before it becomes final as to the defendant (which occurs upon oral announcement of the sentence and the entry of the criminal judgment). Once the sentence has been announced, the rules give the sentencing court only very limited authority to correct errors or omissions in the preliminary forfeiture order. Pursuant to Rule 35(a), the district court may correct a sentence, including an incorporated forfeiture order, within seven days after oral announcement of the sentence. During the seven-day period, corrections are limited to those necessary to correct “arithmetical, technical, or other clear error.” See United States v. King, 368 F. Supp. 2d 509, 512–13 (D.S.C. 2005). Corrections of clerical errors may also be made pursuant to Rule 36. If the order contains errors or omissions that do not fall within Rules 35(a) or 36, and the court delays entry of the preliminary forfeiture order until the time of sentencing, the parties may be left with no alternative to an appeal, which is a waste of judicial resources. The amendment requires the court to enter the preliminary order in advance of sentencing to permit time for corrections, unless it is not practical to do so in an individual case.
Subdivision (b)(2)(C). The amendment explains how the court is to reconcile the requirement that it make the forfeiture order part of the sentence with the fact that in some cases the government will not have completed its post-conviction investigation to locate the forfeitable property by the time of sentencing. In that case the court is authorized to issue a forfeiture order describing the property in “general” terms, which order may be amended pursuant to Rule 32.2(e)(1) when additional specific property is identified.
The authority to issue a general forfeiture order should be used only in unusual circumstances and not as a matter of course. For cases in which a general order was properly employed, see United States v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg), 69 F. Supp. 2d 36 (D.D.C. 1999) (ordering forfeiture of all of a large, complex corporation's assets in the United States, permitting the government to continue discovery necessary to identify and trace those assets); United States v. Saccoccia, 898 F. Supp. 53 (D.R.I. 1995) (ordering forfeiture of up to a specified amount of laundered drug proceeds so that the government could continue investigation which led to the discovery and forfeiture of gold bars buried by the defendant in his mother's back yard).
Subdivisions (b)(3) and (4). The amendment moves the language explaining when the forfeiture order becomes final as to the defendant to new subparagraph (b)(4)(A), where it is coupled with new language explaining that the order is not final as to third parties until the completion of the ancillary proceedings provided for in Rule 32.2(c).
New subparagraphs (B) and (C) are intended to clarify what the district court is required to do at sentencing, and to respond to conflicting decisions in the courts regarding the application of Rule 36 to correct clerical errors. The new subparagraphs add considerable detail regarding the oral announcement of the forfeiture at sentencing, the reference to the forfeiture order in the judgment and commitment order, the availability of Rule 36 to correct the failure to include the forfeiture order in the judgment and commitment order, and the time to appeal.
New subparagraph (C) clarifies the time for appeals concerning forfeiture by the defendant or government from two kinds of orders: the original judgment of conviction and later orders amending or refusing to amend the judgment under Rule 32.2(e) to add additional property. This provision does not address appeals by the government or a third party from orders in ancillary proceedings under Rule 32.2(c).
Subdivision (b)(5)(A). The amendment clarifies the procedure for requesting a jury determination of forfeiture. The goal is to avoid an inadvertent waiver of the right to a jury determination, while also providing timely notice to the court and to the jurors themselves if they will be asked to make the forfeiture determination. The amendment requires that the court determine whether either party requests a jury determination of forfeiture in cases where the government has given notice that it is seeking forfeiture and a jury has been empaneled to determine guilt or innocence. The rule requires the court to make this determination before the jury retires. Jurors who know that they may face an additional task after they return their verdict will be more accepting of the additional responsibility in the forfeiture proceeding, and the court will be better able to plan as well.
Although the rule permits a party to make this request just before the jury retires, it is desirable, when possible, to make the request earlier, at the time when the jury is empaneled. This allows the court to plan, and also allows the court to tell potential jurors what to expect in terms of their service.
Subdivision (b)(5)(B) explains that “the government must submit a proposed Special Verdict Form listing each property subject to forfeiture.” Use of such a form is desirable, and the government is in the best position to draft the form.
Subdivisions (b)(6) and (7). These provisions are based upon the civil forfeiture provisions in Supplemental Rule G of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which are also incorporated by cross reference. The amendment governs such mechanical and technical issues as the manner of publishing notice of forfeiture to third parties and the interlocutory sale of property, bringing practice under the Criminal Rules into conformity with the Civil Rules.
Changes Made to Proposed Amendment Released for Public Comment. The proposed amendment to Rule 32.2 was modified to use the term “property” throughout. As published, the proposed amendment used the terms property and asset(s) interchangeably. No difference in meaning was intended, and in order to avoid confusion, a single term was used consistently throughout. The term “forfeiture order” was substituted, where possible, for the wordier “order of forfeiture.” Other small stylistic changes (such as the insertion of “the” in subpart titles) were also made to conform to the style conventions.
In new subpart (b)(4)(C), dealing with the time for appeals, the words “the defendant or the government” were substituted for the phrase “a party.” This portion of the rule addresses only appeals from the original judgment of conviction and later orders amending or refusing to amend the judgment under Rule 32.2(e) to add additional property. Only the defendant and the government are parties at this stage of the proceedings. This portion of the rule does not address appeals by the government or a third party from orders in ancillary proceedings under Rule 32.2(c). This point was also clarified in the Committee note.
Additionally, two other changes were made to the Committee Note: a reference to the use of the ECF system to aid the court and parties in tracking the status of forfeiture allegations, and an additional illustrative case.
References in Text
The Supplemental Rules of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, referred to in subd. (b)(6)(C), (D), (7), are set out in the Appendix to Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, referred to in subd. (c)(1)(B), are set out in the Appendix to Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.