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United States v. $144

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

December 1, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$144,210.77 IN FUNDS SEIZED FROM SUNTRUST BANK ACCOUNT XXXXXX6875, et al., Defendants

For United States of America, Plaintiff: Michael John Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorneys Office - ATL, Atlanta, GA.

For $144,210.77 in Funds seized from Suntrust Bank, Account XXXXXX6875, $24,959.75 in Funds seized from Bank of America, Account XXXXXXXX2444, $20,039.65 in Funds seized from American Express Bank, Account XXX-XXX409-1, $20,000.00 in United States Currency, $4,690.00 in United States Currency, One 2011 GMC Yukon, VIN 1GKS2HE30BR389956, Defendants: Manubir S. Arora, Arora & LaScala, Trial Attorneys, Atlanta, GA.

For $25,898.84 in Funds seized from Bank of America, Account XXXXXXXXXXXX3150, $9,070.34 in Funds seized from Bank of America, Account XXXXXXXXXXXX2148, $4,501.01 in Funds seized from Wells Fargo Bank, Account XXXXXXXXX3656, Defendants: Manubir S. Arora, Arora & LaScala, Trial Attorneys, Atlanta, GA; Ronald Jeff Freeman, Johnson & Freeman, LLC - UC Ga, Union City, GA.

For Michael Lawrence Assevero, Orevessalm LP, ALM Associates, Inc., Orevessalm LP, ALM Associates, Inc., Claimants: Christopher Portis, Raymond C. Humphrey, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Johnson & Freeman, LLC - UC Ga, Union City, GA; Ronald Jeff Freeman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Johnson & Freeman, LLC - UC Ga, Union City, GA.

Loree Nichols, Claimant, Pro se, Atlanta, GA.

Vernon Carpenter, Claimant, Pro se, Brooksville, FL.

For Jeffrey Gonzalez, Claimant: Neil Lovett Wilkinson, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Law Office of Neil Lovett Wilkinson, Dunwoody, GA.

Page 1388

ORDER

Timothy C. Batten, Sr., United States District Judge.

This case comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss or in the alternative to lift the stay of proceedings [51].[1] As discussed below, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

This is a civil forfeiture action arising out of both state and federal criminal investigations into an alleged " pill mill" being operated by Southern Health Management (" SHM" ), a medical practice located in Tucker, Georgia. SHM operated as a pain clinic and is accused of illegally distributing controlled substances, including Oxycodone, through doctor-written prescriptions. As part of the criminal investigation into SHM's operations, seizure warrants were obtained for nine properties (eight bank accounts and one automobile) associated with SHM's alleged criminal operation.

On October 31, 2012, the Government filed this civil forfeiture action, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § § 981(a)(1)(A) & (C) and 21 U.S.C. § § 881(a)(4) & (6). The Government's complaint for forfeiture contained detailed factual allegations regarding the operations of SHM, the involvement of Assevero, and specific information regarding the date, time, location and nature of the assets seized. In April 2013, the Government moved to stay the instant case, in light of ongoing criminal investigation. The Court granted the motion to stay, so as to avoid compromising the criminal investigations, to relieve the burden on case agents, to avoid duplicitous litigation of the very issues involved in the criminal ...


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