Court Approves 180-Day Extension in Cryptocurrency Forfeiture Case

News | July 1, 2024 By:

On Tuesday, June 18, 2024, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan approved a stipulation between the United States and an individual named Joseph Hugh regarding a seizure of digital assets and technology devices by US Customs and Border Protection on January 25, 2024.

According to the stipulation, CBP seized a variety of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, and others. Some of the notable seizures included over 17 Bitcoin, 19 Ethereum, and over 21,000 Solana tokens. In addition, CBP took possession of several hardware cryptocurrency wallets such as Trezor and Ledger devices along with a few smartphones and a laptop computer.

While CBP initiated administrative forfeiture proceedings following the seizure as required by law, Joseph Hugh filed a claim disputing the forfeiture. As a result, the US Attorney’s Office took over the case and it was referred for judicial civil forfeiture litigation. Under typical procedures, the government would be required to file a forfeiture complaint within 90 days of a claim being filed in the administrative process.

However, in this case, both parties agreed to extend the 90-day deadline by 180 days to allow more time for evaluation and negotiations. In the stipulation approved by the court, Joseph Hugh waived his right to force the government to meet the original deadline or return the property at this time. He also acknowledged the digital assets and devices would remain in CBP custody throughout the extended period.

Extending deadlines is a common practice in forfeiture cases, as many parties usually need additional time for litigation preparation and settlement discussions regarding potentially complicated assets. The extra months granted by the court will now provide both sides until mid-December to resolve the matter without urgent court action.

For his part, Joseph Hugh’s lawyer consented on his behalf and affirmed discussing the stipulation terms to ensure his client understood the ramifications. The judge approved the timely filing, indicating the extension appeared reasonable to balance both parties’ interests in the proper handling of the case. It remains to be seen if an eventual court complaint will be filed or if an out of court settlement can be achieved.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.