LegitScript.com’s blog (which I highly recommend) wonders what happens to the domain name of an internet pharmacy website once the owner is convicted. They noticed that the convicted owner of BuyMeds.com, Orlando Birbragher who pled guilty on August 4, 2008, still owns the domain name.
I admittedly have not seen the BuyMeds.com indictment or Mr. Birbragher’s plea deal, but, in many of these cases, the DOJ is filing criminal forfeiture counts along with their money laundering and conspiracy to distribute controlled substance counts seeking tangible and intangible items associated with the crime – including money, cars, computers, and the domain name itself.
In Federal Court, bifurcated proceedings are held, after a defendant’s conviction, in which the government seeks to persuade the jury (if it went to trial) that there is a basis for forfeiting the property. I am not sure what the hold up in this case is; however, there are a number of possible reasons why the domain name may have yet to been have been forfeited.
- A domain name is intangible property and transfer isn’t as easy as transferring a car or money (which the Government usually seizes prior to trial anyway). Most of us who have tried to transfer domain names to different registrars can attest to that.
- The case is still active. As I mentioned yesterday, the BuyMeds.com pharmacist in this case just pled guilty, and there is one other individual awaiting trial. The government might be waiting until their are no issues or defendants outstanding with any interest in the property.
- The domain name is actually listed under “Andres Birbragher.” LegitScript assumes that this is an alias. While it very well might be, the fact that someone else is listed as an owner might very well be causing the hold up.
- The indictment itself might not have sought criminal forfeiture of BuyMeds.com
- The plea deal might not have included it. According to the DOJ press release, what the defendants agreed to forfeit does not include the domain name: “All of the men agreed to forfeit the proceeds they received from the illegal pharmacy operation: BIRBRAGHER, $3.78 million; KANNER, $3.76 million; LOPEZ, $242,171; and BOUCHEY, $29,209. The Drug Enforcement Administration has already seized more than $4.4 million in connection with the case, money that will be shared with the federal, state, and local agencies that assisted in the five-year investigation of Pharmacom and the Dubuque pharmacy.”
Any other ideas? I welcome them in comments.
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