Pre-seizure Planning

GGD-97-19R: Published: Nov 20, 1996. Publicly Released: Nov 20, 1996.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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GAO reviewed pre-seizure planning practices in the Department of Justice (DOJ), focusing on: (1) what pre-seizure planning guidelines exist for the U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), Drug Enforcement Administration, and Federal Bureau of Investigation for determining whether or not to seize real property and businesses; and (2) to what extent the agencies follow the guidelines for pre-seizure planning. GAO noted that: (1) the current DOJ pre-seizure planning guidance was issued in February 1994; (2) there were instances where U.S. Attorneys may not have consulted USMS prior to initiating action to seize and forfeit real property and businesses; (3) for 8 of the 37 cases in which GAO found no indications of USMS involvement in pre-seizure planning, USMS officials stated that if they had been consulted in pre-seizure planning, they might have recommended against pursuing forfeiture due to estimated equities below the threshold established in the guidance; and (4) the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys sent an electronic mail memorandum on February 28, 1996 to all U.S. Attorneys Offices and Assistant U.S. Attorney asset forfeiture contacts reminding them that USMS should always be included in pre-seizure planning, but some Assistant U.S. Attorneys did not always consult with USMS prior to initiation of action to seize and forfeit real properties.

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