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By now just about every white-collar defense lawyer has learned firsthand of the potentially devastating impact of the federal asset forfeiture laws. Whether through criminal forfeiture or the filing of a parallel civil forfeiture case, it is widely understood that the U.S. Attorney's Office can and will confiscate just about every dollar associated with alleged wrongdoing. In both criminal and civil settings, the laws generally provide for the seizure and forfeiture of any property that directly or indirectly constitutes "proceeds" of certain specified offenses. While these sweeping statutes vest enormous power in the prosecutor's hands, recent legal developments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit have set some important limitations on the permissible scope of forfeiture.

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