United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on the United States' Motion,
pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 32.2, for this Court to enter a
$1, 500, 000 forfeiture Money Judgment against Defendant. The
money judgment figure represents a conservative estimate of
the proceeds of the drug distribution conspiracy based on the
low end (400 kilograms) of drugs distributed at a
conservative price during the drug trafficking and money
laundering conspiracy which Defendant conducted. For good
cause shown and based on the preponderance of the evidence,
this Court will GRANT the Motion. In support of granting the
Motion, this Court FINDS AS FOLLOWS:
February 16, 2016, a Grand Jury returned a First Superseding
Bill of Indictment (Doc. 30) against Defendant and others,
charging them with, among other offenses, an August 2014
through February 2015 drug trafficking conspiracy in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and a money laundering
conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). The
charges stemmed from Defendant's participation in the
conspiracy to move drug proceeds and drugs between North
Carolina and California, and to launder the drug proceeds. As
set forth in the record in this case, including the Factual
Basis (Doc. 72), Defendant was a major player in the
conspiracies, acting on numerous occasions as an invaluable
courier and money launderer between North Carolina and
California. Further, as set forth in the Superseding
Indictment, the Grand Jury found probable cause that the
offenses generated proceeds “in the amount of at least
$6, 600, 000 [ . . . . ]” Superseding Indictment at
Doc. 30, Page 3. Ultimately, Defendant pled guilty without a
plea agreement to the offenses set forth in the Superseding
constituting or derived from proceeds obtained directly or
indirectly as the result of a conspiracy in violation of
Title 21 are subject to criminal forfeiture. 21 U.S.C. §
853(a)(1). Further, any property involved in a conspiracy in
violation of Section 1956(h) is subject to criminal
forfeiture. 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(1). Property
“involved in” a violation of Section 1956(h)
includes, but is not limited to, proceeds of crime. Finally,
a money judgment for criminal proceeds is authorized under
Fed. R. Crim. P. 32.2(b)(1)(A).
Government's burden of proof on forfeiture is
preponderance of the evidence. United States v.
Cherry, 330 F.3d 658, 669 (4th Cir. 2003); United
States v. Tanner, 61 F.3d 231, 233 (4th Cir. 1995). This
Court's “determination may be based on evidence
already in the record, including [ . . . ] any additional
evidence or information submitted by the parties and accepted
by the court as relevant and reliable.” Fed. R. Crim.
P. 32.2(b)(1)(B); see also United States v. Farkas,
474 Fed.Appx. 349, 360 (4th Cir. 2013) (court may rely on
trial record to determine forfeiture). The Government may
satisfy the preponderance burden by both direct and
circumstantial evidence. United States v. St.
Pierre, 484 F.3d 75, 86 (1st Cir. 2007).
the government seeks a personal money judgment, the court
must determine the amount of money that the defendant will be
ordered to pay.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 32.2(b)(1)(A);
see also United States v. Butler, 578 Fed.Appx. 178,
182 (4th Cir. 2014) (district court must find nexus between
forfeiture calculation and crime). Proceeds include, not only
the proceeds generated by the conduct of the defendant
at-issue, but also any proceeds generated due to the
reasonably foreseeable conduct of co-conspirators. United
States v. Blackman, 746 F.3d 137, 144 (4th Cir. 2014)
(discussing proceeds calculation in conspiracy cases and also
noting that forfeiture is mandatory); United States v.
Jalaram, 599 F.3d 347, 351 (4th Cir. 2010) (discussing
proceeds calculation in conspiracy cases); United States
v. McHan, 101 F.3d 1027, 1043 (4th Cir. 1996)
(discussing vicarious liability).
the record supports forfeiture of a $1, 500, 000 forfeiture
money judgment. Specifically, the Grand Jury found probable
cause for a $6, 600, 000 money judgment. Further, Defendant
pled guilty to the charged offenses, and the Factual Basis
sets forth a conspiracy broad in scope and involving a large
amount of drugs. In addition, even when read conservatively
and in the light most beneficial to Defendant, the sentencing
materials reflect a large scale drug trafficking and money
laundering conspiracy operated for profit. Finally, at
sentencing, the United provided information and evidence on
drug quantities and conservative pricing estimates that
support the proceeds calculation.
THEREFORE, ORDERED that the following is subject to
forfeiture: a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $1,
500, 000. Further, the United States is authorized to conduct
discovery, as necessary and authorized by Fed. R. Crim. P.
32.2, to satisfy the money judgment.
 A conspirator's liability in
forfeiture for proceeds received by other conspirators has
been established for some time at the circuit level in many
circuits, including the Fourth Circuit. Due to a new split in
circuits that was created by the D.C. Circuit, the Supreme
Court recently granted certiorari to decide the issue of
liability in a case arising out of the Sixth Circuit.
Honeycutt v. United States, No. 16-142 ( S.Ct. ...