As the Roanoke Times reported here and the Richmond paper reported here, the United States Department of Justice is paying over $1 million of money forfeited in the Buchanan County RICO case back to the County as the victim of the Big Coon Dog case. Here is the press release from the office of John Brownlee, the U.S. Attorney for the W.D. Va. The Roanoke article mentions that I am outside counsel for the County as it tries to get its money back.
Some people have asked me what kind of proceeding was this, that resulted in this payment of the money to the County. The answer is that in the criminal case, the District Court did not order restitution but did enter a series of forfeiture orders against the defendants, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 982. Under 18 U.S.C. § 981(e)(6), property forfeited pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981 may be transferred to the victim of the offenses which gave rise to the forfeiture. Accordingly, we filed a petition for remission of the forfeiture with the Department of Justice under 28 C.F.R. §§ 9.1 et seq. The law enforcement officials in Virginia - the prosecutors and the IRS and FBI - had to make recommendations to the DOJ in Washington, which they did, and their recommendations resulted in favorable action by the DOJ in Washington on the County's petition.