Submitted May 9, 2019 [*]
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:18-cv-1211 -
Ronald A. Guzman, Judge.
Flaum, Hamilton, and Scudder, Circuit Judges.
government arrested Gheorgui Martov for wire fraud and seized
several items of his personal property including a watch, $4,
035 in cash, a car, and nine firearms.
exchange for Martov's guilty plea, the government agreed
not to pursue criminal forfeiture. But the government never
agreed to forgo administrative forfeiture proceedings, which
it had already initiated by sending notice to Martov and his
attorney. Martov responded to the government's notice of
administrative forfeiture by filing claims for the car and
guns. The government denied both claims and declared the
then brought this action in the district court, seeking the
return of the property. The district court denied relief, and
we now affirm, as Martov has failed to advance any
meritorious arguments. In doing so, however, we note our
reservations with the procedural path that the government
took in executing the forfeiture.
participated in a wire fraud scheme in which he collected
fraudulently obtained debit card numbers and personal
identification numbers and then distributed them to others
who used the information to make cash withdrawals from ATMs.
The conduct cost the victims approximately $1.2 million. The
government eventually caught on, and a grand jury indicted
Martov on 22 counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1343, four counts of money laundering in violation of
18 U.S.C. § l956(a)(2)(B)(i), and one count each of
conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1956(h) and obstruction of justice in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 1519. The grand jury also advanced two
criminal forfeiture allegations totaling $250, 000.
FBI agents arrested Martov on March 24, 2014, they seized a
$25, 000 watch, $4, 035 cash, and a 2008 Mercedes-Benz. The
next day, when executing a search warrant at Martov's
home, the agents found and seized nine firearms.
eventually pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud.
Under the plea agreement, the government agreed to dismiss
the criminal forfeiture allegations (which it did) but
reserved the option to pursue "any administrative or
judicial civil claim." The district court sentenced
Martov to seven years' imprisonment.
and apart from Martov's criminal proceeding, the
government initiated an administrative forfeiture proceeding
for the property that it seized during Martov's arrest
and the search of his home. The applicable statute, 18 U.S.C.
§ 983, required the government to notify Martov of any
forfeiture proceedings within 60 days from the seizures, see
id. § 983(a)(1)(A)(i), meaning that it had
until May 23, 2014 to notify Martov of forfeiture proceedings