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United States v. Sperow

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 29, 2018





         Pending before the Court is Gregory Frank Sperow's (“Sperow”) Motion for Order to Stay the Sale of Santa Rosa Creek Road Property and Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. 1282). Having reviewed the Motion, the Government's Response (Dkt. 1283), Sperow's Reply (Dkt. 1284), the underlying criminal record, and the record in the related § 2255 proceeding (No. 1:12-cv-00158-BLW), the Court enters the following Order denying the Motion.


         The Court has recited the factual and procedural background of this case in numerous prior decisions. However, in order to provide context for consideration of the pending Motion, the Court provides an abbreviated factual summary but a more detailed procedural summary regarding the forfeiture issues.

         1. Factual

         On June 19, 2006, Sperow was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Idaho along with eleven other individuals and charged with drug trafficking, money laundering, and related forfeitures. Indictment, Dkt. 1. Sperow and five others were also charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise from 1975 through June 16, 2006, in over twenty states. Id. The 196-page indictment included 98 predicate acts in connection with the criminal enterprise count. Id.

         During his approximately thirty years of criminal activity, Sperow was convicted of drug trafficking charges in the districts of New Mexico, Southern California, and Oregon and sentenced to terms of incarceration in each case. Prior to the Oregon conviction, he had been a fugitive for eight years living under an assumed identity. His drug trafficking and money laundering activities continued during his fugitive years. He was arrested on May 26, 2004, in Orinda, California, on a District of Oregon warrant. The prosecution of the Idaho case commenced after the Oregon case was concluded.

         2. Procedural

         After many unsuccessful pre-trial challenges, Sperow ultimately pleaded guilty to certain charges in the Second Superseding Indictment in return for several concessions by the Government. He pleaded guilty pursuant to a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) binding Plea Agreement to conspiracy to distribute/possess with intent to distribute controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846 (Count Two); conspiracy to launder money in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) (Count Three); drug forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853(a)(1) and (2) (Count Seven); and money-laundering forfeiture pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(1) (Count Eight). Plea Agreement, Dkt. 666.[1] Counts Seven and Eight sought forfeiture of cash proceeds of $16, 000, 000 and the property described in Count Six which included thirteen parcels of real property, thirteen bank accounts, six conveyances including motor vehicles and aircraft, currency, computer and hard drive, and the property and proceeds of ten businesses.

         The Plea Agreement contained a waiver of the right to appeal any non-reserved issues, including forfeiture issues. Plea Agreement at 15. It also contained provisions whereby Sperow agreed not to contest any forfeiture. Plea Agreement at 10-11.

         As relevant to the pending Motion, the Plea Agreement contained two provisions conditionally placing limitations on the forfeiture of certain properties. First, it provided that “in consideration for the defendant's complete and truthful cooperation, ” the Government would not seize, seek a final order of forfeiture, or sell three specifically identified properties. The Santa Rosa property was not among those identified. Plea Agreement at 8-9. Second, the Plea Agreement provided that the Government would not seize or sell two other identified properties, one of which was the Santa Rosa property, during the pendency of Sperow's direct appeal on two reserved issues. Plea Agreement at 9.

         As reflected in the Judgment, on June 25, 2009, the Court imposed a sentence of 181 months on each of Counts Two and Three to run concurrently. Judgment, Dkt. 883. The following day, the Court entered a Preliminary Order of Forfeiture covering, inter alia, the subject Santa Rosa property, forfeiture of which was “to be handled as described in the Plea Agreement.” Preliminary Order of Forfeiture, Dkt. 872 at 20. Included in the written Judgment entered July 1, 2009, was a provision that Sperow would forfeit to the United States his interest in “[a]ll properties set out in the Preliminary Order of Forfeiture” which had, in turn, referenced the Plea Agreement provision regarding the Santa Rosa property. Judgment, Dkt. 883 at 6.

         On December 26, 2010, the Ninth Circuit affirmed this Court's decisions on the reserved issues on appeal. USCA Mem. Dec., Dkt. 1130. On March 30, 2015, the Court dismissed Sperow's timely filed § 2255 Motion on the merits and declined to issue a certificate of appealability. Mem. Dec. and Order, No. 1:12-cv-00158-BLW, Dkt. 61. Among the numerous issues the Court rejected was Sperow's claim that at the time of the change of plea hearing, the Government had agreed to return the Santa Rosa property. Id. at 24; 55-56. On July 9, 2015, the Ninth Circuit denied Sperow's request for a certificate of appealability. USCA Order, Civ. Dkt. 65. On September 18, 2015, the Ninth Circuit denied his motion for ...

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