An attorney for Gary L. Southern, the former president of Freedom Industries, asked a federal judge Monday to immediately stay forfeiture proceedings against Southern, arguing federal prosecutors are trying to strip him of all assets accumulated throughout his working life.
The allegations in the indictment against Southern dont show that his
home in Florida or his
Bentley were derived from the financial crimes he
is accused of -- or that those assets relate in any way to Freedom Industries
, Southerns attorney, Bob Allen, wrote in the motion.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors charged Freedom Industries
and six of its owners, managers and employees with criminal violations of the Clean Water Act related to the January 2014 chemical leak that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 people in Charleston and surrounding communities.
, Dennis P. Farrell, William E. Tis and Charles E. Herzing were each charged with three counts of violating federal environmental laws.
has also been charged with profiting from the sale of goods to Freedom by companies that Southern
owned or in which he
had a substantial interest.
In addition to the environmental charges, Southern faces six counts of bankruptcy fraud, one count of wire fraud and three counts of making false oaths or attempting to conceal his
assets, all related to statements he
made after the leak.
The bankruptcy-related charges allege that Southern lied about his
role with Freedom, claiming he
was only a consultant to the company, not an executive, in an attempt to shield his
personal wealth from lawsuits related to the leak.
The U.S. Attorneys Office has sought warrants to seize more than $7 million from accounts belonging to Southern
or a company he
owns, saying they are profits from the crimes they allege.
Goodwin said after Southern
was indicted Dec. 17 that federal officials are seizing Southerns assets and that they will be held through the court proceedings.
The United States believes the proceeds of the financial-related charges against Southern
include Southerns entire net worth, Allen wrote.
In other words, the United States seeks to strip Mr. Southern
of all assets accumulated throughout his working life for alleged crimes which occurred in 2014 but which did not result in any profit or gain to Mr. Southern
, Allen wrote.
As set forth below, the crimes with which Mr. Southern
is charged were non-monetary in nature and resulted in no profit or gain or proceeds to him.
Farrell and Southern
have filed motions asking that Goodwins office be removed from prosecuting the case saying that they were victims of the chemical leak and thus cannot be impartial prosecutors.
, described by the indictment as the former chief operating officer, is charged for his
involvement with the company from May 2009 through Jan. 9, 2014.
Unlike his three co-defendants, Allen wrote, Southern was never an owner of Freedom or its affiliated entities -- Etowah River Terminal and Poca Blending.
owned or had a substantial interest in IWL Inc., Blackwater Group LLC and Enviromine Inc.
, which did business with Freedom.
Southern sold Enviromine to Freedom in Oct. 2013.
The sale of Enviromine
and any assets Mr. Southern
may have received from that sale predated the MCHM leak, Freedoms bankruptcy, and Mr. Southerns alleged violation of those statutes on which the forfeiture claim is premised, Allen wrote.