United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
MIRANDO United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court upon review of Petitioner Wells
Fargo Equipment Finance, Inc.'s
(“Petitioner”) Unopposed Motion for Leave to
Conduct Discovery in Ancillary Forfeiture Proceeding (Doc.
188) filed on April 17, 2017. Petitioner seeks to conduct
discovery regarding factual issues raised in its Verified
Petition for Remission (“Petition”) (Doc. 175).
Doc. 188 at 1. The Government does not oppose the requested
relief. Id. at 4.
February 4, 2015, the grand jury returned a nineteen-count
Superseding Indictment against Defendant, which included
fourteen counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1343. Doc. 18. On August 24, 2016, Defendant pleaded
guilty to Counts One through Nineteen of the Superseding
Indictment. Docs. 148, 149. On August 25, 2016, Senior United
States District Judge John E. Steele adjudicated him guilty
of Counts One through Nineteen of the Superseding Indictment.
October 6, 2016, the Government filed a Motion for Forfeiture
Money Judgment and Preliminary Order of Forfeiture for
Specific Assets, seeking a forfeiture money judgment against
Defendant in the amount of $2, 234, 681.00. Doc. 154 at 1.
The Government argued that Defendant acquired the proceeds as
the result of a wire fraud scheme. Id. The
Government also sought forfeiture of various assets
Real property, including all improvements thereon and
appurtenances thereto, located at 3343 Pacific Drive, Naples,
Collier County, Florida 34119, more particularly described
Lot 225, Riverstone - Plat Three, according to the plat
hereof, as recorded in Plat Book 52, at Page 19, of the
Public Records of Collier County, Florida.
Property Identification Number: 69770004788.
(the “Real Property”) Id. On January 31,
2017, Judge Steele granted the Government's motion for
forfeiture, entered a forfeiture money judgment against
Defendant in the amount of $2, 234, 681.00, and forfeited the
identified assets including the Real Property. Doc. 168.
Judge Steele held that his Order will become a final order of
forfeiture at sentencing. Id. at 2.
February 21, 2017, Petitioner filed its Petition, asserting
its legal interest in the Real Property. Doc. 175. Petitioner
argued that it is entitled to a constructive trust and an
equitable lien over the Real Property because Defendant
purchased the Real Property with funds he obtained from
Petitioner through his wire fraud scheme. Id. at
1-2. As a result, Petitioner asserted that its legal rights
and interests in the Real Property are superior to those of
Defendant. Id. at 2. On April 17, 2017, Petitioner
filed the present motion, arguing that it seeks to conduct
discovery to ascertain whether Defendant made additional
deposits with Petitioner's funds. Doc. 188 at 2.
Petitioner also argues that it needs to conduct discovery to
authenticate and qualify the documents in its possession for
their admissibility at trial and to obtain other parties'
documents related to the purchase and ownership of the Real
Property. Id. Petitioner requests to conduct
discovery for a period of between 90 and 120 days.
Id. at 3.
32.2(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure states:
(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 ...