The civil forfeiture case filed against Rochester real estate developer Robert C. Morgan of Morgan Communities has been formally withdrawn by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on February 12, less than six months after a criminal indictment case against Morgan was dismissed in court.
Federal prosecutors filed the forfeiture complaint to seize Morgan’s financial assets and properties, which amounts to millions that were allegedly acquired through fraudulent means. The government also filed for the seizure of income from Morgan’s joint venture shares in seven properties. All these complaints have been withdrawn by the U.S. attorney.
Last year, Morgan and his joint venture partners faced criminal charges for allegedly obtaining bank loans amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars by making fraudulent loan applications. In October, the charges were dismissed by U.S. Federal Judge Elizabeth Wolford for failing to provide evidence to prove there was a massive fraud conspiracy between Morgan and his partners.
Claiming that the court decision was without prejudice, the U.S. attorney’s office continued its investigation to warrant the filing of a civil forfeiture case to seize the hundreds of millions of dollars involved in the court case. Prosecutors justified that the dismissal of the criminal case does not nullify the seizure of Morgan’s assets and the possibility of another indictment because Judge Wolford’s decision clearly was made without prejudice.
During the court hearings, Wolford also called out prosecutors for the delays caused by mishandling of electronic evidence which led to the dismissal of the case. The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for the protection of defendants against lengthy delays in proceedings that will deprive the accused of fair and speedy trial.
The decision to withdraw what could have been one of the largest asset forfeiture cases in New York was made after Morgan’s attorneys publicly issued statements arguing that the government violated the agreement made before the court as well as legal processes. The move to seize the funds and assets owned by Morgan even without an order from the court could warrant contempt of court complaints against prosecutors.
The US. Attorney’s Office claimed they followed procedures in filing the civil forfeiture cases, but admitted that seizure of Morgan’s properties and funds was made without the express approval of the court and disobeyed the court’s decision.
As one of the biggest real estate developers in western New York, Morgan owns apartment complexes and commercial properties across the state. However, after receiving a favorable court decision, Morgan has sold many of his rental properties to raise $65 million that he used to pay back investors who funded his real estate projects. This move allowed him to settle cases with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Withdrawal of the civil forfeiture case against Morgan has again put into full view the government’s apparent overreach in using civil asset forfeiture laws for its own benefits. Based on previously reported cases, respondents to civil asset forfeiture complaints are often subjected to delays and neglect of procedures by authorities.
Federal Civil Asset Forfeiture Attorney
Have police or seized your property using civil forfeiture? Do you need help getting it back? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation and work with an experienced civil asset forfeiture attorney. There are no attorney fees in cash seizure cases unless your funds are recovered.