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Ali v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 11, 2014

ALI
v.
STATE OF GEORGIA. BECTOR
v.
STATE OF GEORGIA. PAUL
v.
STATE OF GEORGIA. SINGH
v.
STATE OF GEORGIA

Cert. applied for.

RICO. Hall Superior Court. Before Judge Deal.

Brian Steel, for appellants (case nos. A14A0047, A14A0048).

Salu K. Kunnatha, for appellant (case no. A14A0070).

Janice Singer-Capek, for appellant (case no. A14A0410).

Lee Darragh, District Attorney, Juliet Aldridge, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

BARNES, Presiding Judge. Boggs and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 602

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

These related appeals arise from a lengthy federal undercover operation involving the trafficking of untaxed cigarettes which culminated [328 Ga.App. 204] in a final transaction during which large sums of currency were seized. The State of Georgia, acting through the Hall County District Attorney, brought four civil in rem forfeiture actions under OCGA § 16-14-7 of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act) against certain sums of currency and a named defendant or defendants. Each complaint alleged that the named defendant was involved in a pattern of trafficking untaxed cigarettes and committed multiple overt acts of exchanging currency for untaxed cigarettes, and that on October 19, 2011, the defendant brought the currency that was the subject of the forfeiture complaint to a warehouse for the purpose of buying untaxed cigarettes and cigars.[1]

The appellants filed pleas in bar and motions to dismiss the forfeiture complaints, arguing that the complaints were not actually civil proceedings against the money but were criminal proceedings against the appellants personally that were barred by previous criminal prosecutions arising from the same

Page 603

transactions.[2] The trial court denied the motions, and this court granted the appellants' applications for interlocutory review. The appellants argue on appeal that the State failed to show that the subject currency itself was involved in at least two predicate acts of racketeering and thus could not demonstrate that the currency was involved in a pattern of racketeering activity, as required by OCGA § 16-14-7. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

In its virtually identical forfeiture complaints, the State alleged that the currency was subject to forfeiture because it was possessed by ...


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