Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, August 25, 2006

Soreide: Wife Can't Avoid Criminal Forfeiture of Husband's Property

In U.S. v. Soreide, No. 05-12559 (Aug. 24, 2006), the Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the government in a an ancillary action, brought by the wife of a criminal defendant, challenging orders of criminal forfeiture in her husband’s property.
21 U.S.C. § 853(n) allows a third-party to assert an interest in property subject to a preliminary order of forfeiture. The statute establishes a 30-day deadline, and provides two grounds for recovery: (1) a showing of a "superior" interest in the property to the interest of the defendant, and (2) being a bona fide purchaser of the property.
None of the wife’s claims were sustainable under § 853(n). Her claim of a "superior" interest was untimely.
She was not a "bona fide purchaser" within the meaning of the statute, because this provision protest only subsequent purchasers of the defendant’s interest in the property. Here, the wife claimed that she purchased property with the defendant.
Finally, the wife could not succeed on her claim that she was not given adequate notice of forfeiture as to one piece of property. The fact that she mentioned this property in her first petition for relief showed that she had actual notice of its forfeiture.