Author: Stefan Cassella

Don’t Spread Falsehoods on Forfeiture

The Washington Post published this Letter to the Editor criticizing the Post’s coverage of civil asset forfeiture.  The letter appeared in the Free for All section on July 29, 2017 at p. A15. Letter to the Editor: Don’t Spread Falsehoods on Forfeiture

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AG Sessions’ Policy on Adoptive Forfeitures

On July 19, 2017, Attorney General Sessions issued a Policy Directive revising the policy on the adoption of  state and local asset forfeiture cases by federal law enforcement agencies.  The policy revises the policy implemented in 2015 by former Attorney General Holder and allows federal agencies to resume adopting most state and local asset seizures […]

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Hurdling the Sovereign Wall: How Governments Can Recover the Proceeds of Crimes that Cross National Boundaries

The globalization of crime has made it possible for international money launderers, kleptocrats, and fraudsters to commit crimes in one jurisdiction while remaining safely in another and hiding their assets in a third.  At the same time, law enforcement officials remain constrained by the rules of national sovereignty that inhibit their ability to recover assets […]

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Fallout: The Honeycutt Decision Claims Its First Victim

Joint and Several Liability / Application of Honeycutt Under Honeycutt, the son of the President of Honduras, who assisted in smuggling hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the US, is liable to forfeit only the amount of money the Government could prove that he personally received from the drug traffickers.  A defendant, one of five […]

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“Manhattan Skyscraper Linked to Iran Can Be Seized by U.S., Jury Finds,”

“Manhattan Skyscraper Linked to Iran Can Be Seized by U.S., Jury Finds,” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/nyregion/650-fifth-avenue-iran-terrorism.html S.D.N.Y. * Claimant and another company were the co-owners of an office building on Fifth Avenue in New York and other property.  The Government alleged that the co-owner was a front for the Government of Iran, and that when Claimant provided services […]

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The Baby and the Bathwater: Forfeiture “reform” bill would undermine the Government’s ability to combat international money laundering and other serious crimes

H.R. 1795, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives to reform the civil asset forfeiture laws, would reach far beyond the seizures of cash by state and local police that have generated controversy.  In fact, it would undermine the Government’s ability to use the only tool available to combat international money laundering, kleptocracy, Russian […]

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Choose Your Weapon: Is civil forfeiture really necessary, or is it an undesirable shortcut to real law enforcement.

Choose Your Weapon: Is civil forfeiture really necessary, or is it an undesirable shortcut to real law enforcement.           Civil – or non-conviction-based – forfeiture is an increasingly common way for governments to relieve criminal wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes and to restore the property to the victims of the offense.  Led by […]

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Honeycutt v. United States: Supreme Court Overturns Decades of Criminal Forfeiture Law

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held on June 5, 2017, that the doctrine of Joint and Several Liability does not apply in criminal forfeiture cases, and that a defendant convicted of a conspiracy therefore is liable to forfeit only what he/she personally obtained, and not for the proceeds obtained by co-conspirators.  The following […]

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Toward a New Model for Money Laundering: Is the “placement, layering, integration” model obsolete?

This article discusses the shortcomings of the “placement/layering/integration” model of money laundering that was drawn from the pattern followed by drug cartels in the 1980s, and suggests a broader approach is needed to address modern methods of money laundering. New Model for Money Laundering.art

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Why Civil Forfeiture is an Essential Tool

Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would severely curtail the Government’s ability to use civil forfeiture as a law enforcement tool by raising the burden of proof and imposing procedural roadblocks to filing civil forfeiture cases.  The legislation is motivated by the erroneous perception that civil forfeiture is used, almost exclusively, by state and local […]

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