United States v. Kahn, No. 17-8035 (10th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
In January 2017 a grand jury in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming returned a 21-count indictment against Defendant Shakeel Kahn (who was a physician) and others charging distribution of controlled substances and money laundering. The indictment included a criminal forfeiture count under 21 U.S.C. 853, which listed a number of his assets that the grand jury identified as fruits of the alleged crimes. Most of those assets had been seized by the government before filing the indictment. Two weeks after the indictment, Kahn moved for a hearing to challenge the seizure of $1,140,699.95 in currency and bank accounts, asserting he needed this money to retain private counsel of his choice, noting that his only unseized assets were a $175,000 home encumbered by an $80,000 lien and a business that brought in less than $3,000 a month after taxes. He estimated that he would need at least $200,000 to pay counsel and that his total defense costs would be at least $450,000. In April the district court denied the motion. Defendant petitioned the Tenth Circuit for a district-court hearing to challenge the seizure of those assets. The district court denied a hearing because he has some unseized assets with which to pay an attorney. The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded because the proper test was whether he had sufficient unseized assets to pay for the reasonable cost of obtaining counsel of his choice.