The Asset Forfeiture Unit, composed of two Assistant U.S. Attorneys, a Paralegal Specialist, a contract paralegal, and a contract data analyst, is responsible for obtaining the forfeiture of real property and personal property which were used in criminal activity or were purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity. To obtain the forfeiture of assets, the Unit works with federal, state and local investigative agencies, and state prosecutors to identify assets of targets of criminal investigations, restrain the assets pending completion of the forfeiture, and conduct any legal proceedings necessary to complete the forfeiture.
By aiming to take the profit out of crime, asset forfeiture is one of the most effective tools in dismantling criminal networks. The Asset Forfeiture Unit works closely with our Criminal Division Assistant U.S. Attorneys to identify and restrain assets of targets of federal investigations early in the case. A forfeiture may proceed against property even before anyone is charged with a crime in the case. The Unit works closely with most federal law enforcement agencies with forfeiture jurisdiction, which means that they can process the properties which are seized for violations of federal laws which they investigate and enforce. The federal agencies with whom the Unit works the closest are the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE), Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The Asset Forfeiture Unit also files forfeiture cases on behalf of state and local police departments under the "adoptive forfeiture" theory. In these cases, a local New Hampshire police department, the New Hampshire State Police, or the New Hampshire Attorney General's Drug Task Force may be working on a target who will be prosecuted in New Hampshire state court. However, under certain conditions, the U.S. Attorney's Office will handle the forfeiture in federal court to permit the agencies to participate in the "equitable sharing program." Forfeited property may also be used as restitution to compensate victims of crime.
The "equitable sharing program" permits the proceeds of sales of forfeited assets, as well as seized cash, to be "shared" with the law enforcement agency which did the investigation. Under stringent federal guidelines, which require approved annual audits, the state and local police departments are able to use their portion of shared funds to further future criminal investigations, through the purchase of equipment, training and manpower.