A federal jury decided Tuesday that convicted Toledo businessman J. Richard Jamieson should turn over his home and other property to the government, but court observers said yesterday that forfeiture probably won't happen for at least months.
The next step is for federal prosecutors to file a request for a preliminary order of forfeiture with U.S. District Judge David Katz. That could happen as early as tomorrow, said Seth Uram, assistant U.S. attorney in Toledo.
If the judge grants the request, prosecutors will be required to publish notices informing innocent third parties with ownership interests in the properties. They will then have an opportunity to make a claim.
Prosecutors say that targeted assets were acquired from the proceeds of a four-year mail fraud scheme at Jamieson's Liberte Capital Group LLC aimed at insurance companies and investors. The case involved the largest insurance fraud investigation in Ohio history, state regulators said. Besides ordering the forfeitures, jurors issued a monetary judgment of $28 million against Jamieson.
Prosecutors requested a judgment of $92 million of the $105 million they believe investors lost in the company collapse. However, jurors chose to focus on funds involved in specific money-laundering allegations identified in a grand jury indictment.
Assets include Jamieson's Ottawa Hills home, its furnishings, proceeds of the sale of a Michigan vacation home, two cars, a boat, personal watercraft, 51 domestic and off-shore companies and trust funds, and 44 accounts at banks and investment houses.
Jamieson's wife, Laura, plans to file a third-party claim, said her attorney Peter Wagner. Mr. Wagner said it is too soon to say in which assets in which she will claim an interest, but “real estate is primary.”
The government can automatically agree to recognize claims, negotiate a settlement, or demand a hearing before a judge.
Once such claims are resolved, a judge usually issues a final order of forfeiture turning over title to the property to the government. Prosecutors would then attempt to sell or otherwise convert the assets to cash, Mr. Uram said.
Prosecutors conceded that the process can take months. In the case of Toledo health care executive William Harris, who was convicted of Medicare fraud, it took 21/2 years because of the size of his real estate holdings, Mr. Uram noted.
Jamieson is expected to appeal the guilty verdict, which means the government likely would not want to liquidate the assets until an appellate decision is made. The federal court jury found him guilty on 159 counts of mail fraud and money-laundering last week, and he faces a probable 20 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, according to prosecutors. Sentencing is not expected for about two months.
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