Tags: Criminal law, Sentencing
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The case of "United States of America v. Bernard L. Madoff" involves a petition by Robert A. Baird and Randy Morrison Baird to retrieve a sculpture they gifted to Madoff in 2006. The sculpture was forfeited to the government after Madoff pled guilty to defrauding clients of his investment firm. The Bairds invested money with Madoff's firm and believed their investment had appreciated greatly, leading them to give Madoff the gift as a thank you. The court granted the government's motion to dismiss the petition. The sculpture was worth several hundred dollars and had sentimental value. The Bairds attempted to recover the sculpture after Madoff's guilty plea and forfeiture order.
The Bairds attempted to recover a sculpture they gifted to Madoff after learning of his criminal conduct, and later saw it in a Madoff auction. They filed a petition to recover it, but the government moved to dismiss, arguing lack of standing and failure to satisfy statutory requirements. The legal standard for a motion to dismiss in a forfeiture proceeding is at issue, and the Bairds' legal interest in the sculpture will be discussed. The lower court's handling of the case is not mentioned.
In a criminal forfeiture case, a third-party petition must prove the petitioner's legal interest in the property by a preponderance of evidence using state law. In New York, an inter vivos gift is perfected when the donor intends to make a present, irrevocable transfer, delivers the gift to the donee, and the donee accepts it. The Bairds fail to state a plausible claim because they made an irrevocable gift of the sculpture to Madoff, divesting them of any interest in it. The Bairds' statements and evidence demonstrate their donative intent, delivery, and Madoff's acceptance of the gift.
The Bairds cannot revoke their gift to Madoff even if the premise for the gift turned out to be false. There is no evidence of any conditions or agreement to return the Sculpture. The conveyance of the Sculpture to Madoff was a valid gift under New York law, and the Bairds have no legal interest in the property. Their claim fails, and the government's motion to dismiss their claim is granted. The government must submit a proposed final order on notice.
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