The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Mendez United States District Judge
STIPULATION TO STAY FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AND ORDER DATE: TIME:
Plaintiff United States of America, and Claimants Adib Sirope and Rimoun Mansour (hereafter collectively "Claimants"), by and through their respective counsel, hereby stipulate that a stay is necessary in the above-entitled action, and request that
1 Stipulation to Stay Further
Proceedings and Order [Proposed] the Court enter an order staying all further proceedings in this civil forfeiture action until the proceedings in the related criminal case, U.S. v. Adib Sirope, et al., 2:10-CR-00258-FCD, have concluded. The parties request this stay for the following reasons:
1. Claimants filed a claim to the defendant property on February 17, 2009, and filed an Answer to the complaint on March 9, 2009.
2. The stay is requested pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981(g)(1) and 981(g)(2). The plaintiff contends that claimants and others conspired to defraud the California Board of Equalization out of excise taxes due on the sale of tobacco products in California. The plaintiff alleges that the U.S. mail and interstate communications systems were used to perpetrate the fraud. Claimants deny these allegations.
3. The United States intends to depose claimants regarding their claim to the defendant property, their operation of PayLess Wholesale Tobacco, and their business dealings with others in the tobacco industry. If discovery proceeds at this time, claimants will be placed in the difficult position of either invoking their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and losing the ability to pursue their claim to the defendant property, or waiving their Fifth Amendment right and submitting to a deposition and potentially incriminating themselves. If either person invokes his Fifth Amendment right, the plaintiff will be deprived of the ability to explore the factual basis for the claims they filed with this court.
4. In addition, claimants intend to depose the law enforcement agents involved in this investigation. Allowing depositions of the law enforcement officers at this time would adversely affect the ability of the federal government to properly prosecute the case.
5. Accordingly, the parties recognize that proceeding with this action at this time has potential adverse affects on the prosecution of the related-criminal case and/or upon claimants' ability to prove their claim to the property and assert any defenses to forfeiture. For these reasons, the parties jointly request that this matter be stayed until the related criminal case has concluded. Within 30 days after the conclusion of the related criminal case the parties will submit a joint status report addressing the matters set forth in the January 22, 2009, Order Requiring Joint Status Report.
BENJAMIN B. WAGNER United States Attorney By KELLI L. TAYLOR Assistant U.S. Attorney Dated: 2/24/11 GERAGOS & GERAGOS By MARK J. GERAGOS Attorneys for claimants Adib Sirope and Rimoun Mansour (As authorized by phone)
For the reasons set forth above, this matter is stayed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981(g)(1) and 981(g)(2) until the conclusion of the related criminal case. Within 30 days after the criminal case has concluded the parties will submit a joint status report addressing the matters set forth in the January 22, 2009, Order Requiring Joint Status Report.