United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Government has requested that the Court stay this
civil-forfeiture action, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
981(g)(1), pending the conclusion of a related criminal
investigation and trial. Doc. 76, United States' Opposed
Mot. to Stay Civil Forfeiture Proceeding (hereinafter,
“Mot. to Stay”). Claimant Accel International
opposes the stay and has filed a response in opposition to
the Government's motion (Doc. 80). Claimant United IT
Solutions does not oppose the Government's motion. Doc.
76, Mot. to Stay, 2, n.1. Claimant Sparkpro Solutions, Inc.
has not taken a position on the stay. Id. Having
reviewed the relevant briefing and the Government's ex
parte evidence in support, the Court GRANTS
the Government's motion (Doc. 76).
of 2017, the Government seized two bank accounts from Accel
(the ‘5478 account and the ‘1679 account), one
from United (the ‘6062 account), and one from Sparkpro
(the ‘2342 account). Doc. 54, 2d Am. Compl. (SAC),
¶ 3. After seizing these accounts, the Government filed
its complaint in this case. Doc. 1, Compl. The Government
alleged that it seized the accounts because the funds therein
were obtained in relation to violations of various
immigration laws that criminalize fraud in filing
visa-application forms. Doc. 54, SAC, ¶ 6. Specifically,
the Government stated the property was subject to seizure
because it was involved in and/or was derived from proceeds
traceable to a conspiracy to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1546
(fraud in immigration forms) and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956,
1957 (money laundering). Id. Various parties came
forward and filed verified claims of interest in the seized
property. Doc. 5, United's Verified Claim; Doc. 17,
Sparkpro's Verified Claim; Doc. 18, Accel's Verified
11, 2018, the Government brought a related criminal action,
United States v. Ravi Kumar Dokku, et al., No.
3:18-CR-341-S (N.D. Tex.), that included a notice of
forfeiture and bill of particulars that identified the
defendant property in this case as subject to forfeiture.
Doc. 76, Mot. to Stay, 2. Based on this related criminal
action, the Government now moves that this civil forfeiture
case be stayed pending the resolution of the criminal case
and investigation. Id. at 4. Accel International is
the only claimant that opposes the stay. Doc. 80, Accel's
Resp. The Government's motion is now ripe for review.
981(g)(1) of Title 18 provides that “[u]pon motion of
the United States, the court shall stay the civil forfeiture
proceeding if the court determines that civil discovery will
adversely affect the ability of the Government to conduct a
related criminal investigation or prosecution of a related
criminal case.” 18 U.S.C. § 981(g)(1). “This
language reflects an amendment by the Civil Asset Forfeiture
Reform Act of 2000 (‘CAFRA') that ‘broadened
the stay relief significantly.'” United States
v. $4, 480, 466.16 in Funds Seized from Bank of Am. Account
Ending in 2653, 2019 WL 459645, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Feb. 6,
2019) (hereinafter, “$4, 480, 466.16 in
Funds”) (Fitzwater, J.) (quoting United States
v. All Funds Deposited in Account No. 20008524845, 162
F.Supp.2d 1325, 1330 (D. Wyo. 2001)). Among other things, the
amendment removed the requirements that an indictment or
information be filed and that the Government show good cause.
deciding whether to grant a stay, the court must determine,
first, whether a related criminal investigation or
prosecution exists and, second, whether civil discovery will
adversely affect the ability of the Government to conduct
that criminal investigation or prosecution were the civil
forfeiture case allowed to proceed.” Id.
(internal quotations omitted) (quoting United States v.
All Funds ($357, 311.68) Contained in N. Tr. Bank of Fla.
Account No. 724001868, 2004 WL 1834589, at *2 (N.D. Tex.
2004) (hereinafter, “All Funds”) (Fish,
parties do not dispute that a criminal action related to this
cases exists. See United States v. Ravi Kumar Dokku, et
al., No. 3:18-cr-341-S (N.D. Tex. filed July 11, 2018).
Claimant Accel does dispute whether the Government
has met its burden of showing that civil discovery will
adversely affect its ability to conduct the ongoing criminal
investigation and prosecution. Doc. 80, Accel's Resp.,
3-6. In the alternative, Accel argues that even if the
Government satisfied its burden, a protective order would be
an adequate and preferable remedy in place of a stay.
Id. at 6-7.
Civil Discovery Will Adversely Affect the Related