Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Forfeit To Be Tied

United States v. Schlesinger, No. 05-03021-cr (2d Cir. January 30, 2008) (Jacobs, Parker, Wesley, CJJ) (per curiam)

Schlesinger, convicted of mail and wire fraud, made a clever, but unfortunately not clever enough, argument challenging the forfeiture of the proceeds.

The district court had relied on 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c) (2005), which provides that a criminal forfeiture can be alleged in the indictment when “no specific statutory provision is made for criminal forfeiture upon conviction.” Schlesinger pointed out that there is a specific statutory provision for forfeiture of mail and wire fraud offenses, thus § 2461(c) should not apply, but also that the specific provision, 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(2)(A), applies only to the proceeds of frauds affecting a financial institution, which was not the case here. As the circuit summarized it, although it is not an image one would care to dwell on, Schlesinger argued that the government “falls between two stools.”

The circuit affirmed because the forfeiture here was a civil forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 981, which does not limit forfeitures to frauds affecting financial institutions.

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