Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 6:08-cr-00176-JA-GJK-1
WILLIAM PRYOR and ROSENBAUM, Circuit Judges, and MOORE,
WILLIAM PRYOR, CIRCUIT JUDGE
appeal presents the question whether a criminal defendant has
standing to appeal the partial vacatur of the final
forfeiture order entered in his case. Frank Amodeo pleaded
guilty to involvement in a criminal scheme to divert his
clients' payroll taxes. He agreed to forfeit many assets,
including the ownership of two shell corporations. The
district court entered a preliminary forfeiture order that
divested Amodeo of those assets. After no third parties
asserted an interest in the corporations, the court entered a
final forfeiture order that transferred ownership of them to
the government. Years later, the corporations were named as
defendants in a lawsuit brought by victims of Amodeo's
scheme. The government then moved to vacate the final
forfeiture order as to the corporations, and the district
court granted that motion. Amodeo appeals the partial vacatur
on the ground that the district court lacked the authority to
enter it. But because the partial vacatur caused him no
injury, Amodeo lacks standing to complain about it. We
dismiss his appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
Amodeo instigated a criminal scheme to divert his
clients' payroll taxes to his companies' bank
accounts instead of remitting that money to the Internal
Revenue Service. After a grand jury returned a 27-count
indictment, Amodeo reached a plea agreement with the
government. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the
United States, failure to collect and remit payroll taxes,
and obstruction of an agency investigation. He agreed to
forfeit many assets, including approximately $180 million,
multiple properties, luxury cars, a Lear jet, and the
ownership of several corporations. This appeal concerns two
of those corporations: AQMI Strategy Corporation and Nexia
district court entered a preliminary forfeiture order for the
assets listed in Amodeo's plea agreement, including AQMI
and Nexia. The preliminary forfeiture order stated that it
"shall be a final order of forfeiture as to the
defendant, Frank L. Amodeo." The district court
sentenced Amodeo to 270 months of imprisonment followed by
three years of supervised release.
government then moved for a final forfeiture order. No third
parties claimed an interest in the corporations. The district
court granted the motion and entered the final forfeiture
order. It ordered that Amodeo's assets, including the
corporations, were "condemned and forfeited to the
United States," so "clear title to the property is
now vested in the United States."
appealed the final forfeiture order, but we dismissed his
appeal for lack of jurisdiction. United States v.
Amodeo, No. 09-16170 (11th Cir. Mar. 26, 2010). We
explained that Amodeo lacked standing to appeal the final
forfeiture order because the preliminary forfeiture order
"fully and finally resolved all of Frank Amodeo's
interests in the properties referenced in the . . . final
forfeiture order." Id. at 1. Amodeo's lack
of standing meant this Court lacked jurisdiction over his
appeal. Id. Amodeo also appealed his conviction,
which we affirmed. United States v. Amodeo, 387
Fed.Appx. 953 (11th Cir. 2010).
years later, victims of Amodeo's scheme filed a complaint
against several corporations, including the forfeited AQMI
and Nexia. See Complaint at 3, Palaxar Grp. v.
Williams, No. 6:14-cv-00758-ORL-28GJK (M.D. Fla. Sept.
18, 2013), ECF No. 1. After AQMI and Nexia were served as
defendants in the suit, the government moved to vacate the
final forfeiture order only as to those corporations. The
government explained that both corporations were shell
corporations without any assets and that it had sought their
forfeiture "to prevent their continued illegal use by
[Amodeo] and to deprive [him] of any economic value that the
corporations may have." The government informed the
district court that it would not defend either corporation in
the Palaxar suit and "believe[d] it . . . in
the best interest of the [g]overnment to divest ownership of
Nexia and AQMI." The district court granted the motion
and vacated the final forfeiture order as to AQMI and Nexia.
The final forfeiture order "otherwise remain[ed] in
moved to reconsider the partial vacatur on the ground that
the district court lacked jurisdiction to alter the final
forfeiture order, but the district court denied his motion.
The court confirmed that it had vacated only the final
forfeiture order in part, not the preliminary forfeiture
order. It explained that, "[j]ust as Amodeo lacked
standing to challenge the final order of forfeiture on
appeal, Amodeo also lack[ed] standing to challenge the
partial vacatur of that order." Amodeo appealed the
denial of his motion to reconsider the partial vacatur-the
appeal before us now.
Amodeo moved to intervene in the pending Palaxar
suit. He contended that the partial vacatur of the final
forfeiture order restored his ownership of AQMI and Nexia.
The district court denied the motion, and we affirmed that
denial. See Palaxar Grp. v. Williams, 714 Fed.Appx.
926, 928-29 (11th Cir. 2017). We concluded that the partial
vacatur did not return the ownership of the corporations to
Amodeo because "the preliminary forfeiture order, which
divested Mr. Amodeo of his ownership interest, was never
disturbed." Id. at 929 & n.4. We explained
that "[t]he government did not return its interest in
AQMI to Mr. Amodeo; instead, the government relinquished its
ownership interest after AQMI was sued." Id. at
928. And we noted that "[a] previous panel of this court
recognized as much, and we have no basis or reason to reach a
different conclusion." Id. at 928-29.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review de novo questions of our jurisdiction.
United States v.Cartwright, 413 F.3d ...