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United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.



Decided: August 09, 2019

Present: BARRINGTON D. PARKER, RICHARD C. WESLEY, DENNY CHIN, Circuit Judges. For Claimant-Appellant Islamic Education Center of Maryland: SAEID B. AMINI, Washington, DC. For the Government: DANIEL M. TRACER, Assistant United States Attorney (Michael D. Lockard, Daniel B. Tehrani, Assistant United States Attorneys, on the brief), for Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, New York, NY.


We assume the parties’ familiarity with the matter and discuss the underlying facts and law only as necessary to resolve the issues before us.

The Claimant-Appellant Islamic Education Center of Maryland (“Maryland-IEC”) is a nonprofit corporation located and incorporated in Maryland. For over thirty years, Maryland-IEC has leased and occupied two properties (the “Properties”) owned by the Alavi Foundation. In December 2009, the Government published notice on an official website that it intended to seek the forfeiture of Alavi’s assets, including the Properties. Later that month, Maryland-IEC filed a statement of interest asserting a leasehold interest in the Properties based on its agreement with Alavi.

In 2013, Maryland-IEC sent a letter to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Forrest, J.) asserting a new theory: that it owned the Properties under a Waqf, a charitable endowment generally made for religious purposes. Soon after, Maryland-IEC filed a second statement of interest asserting its Waqf theory along with a constructive-trust theory of ownership.

In 2017, the district court held a jury trial that resulted in a judgment ordering Alavi to forfeit its interest in the Properties. Specifically, the Government was awarded a 17% ownership interest in the Properties. Following the verdict, Maryland-IEC made another supplemental filing adding facts in support of its constructive-trust theory of ownership.

The Government moved to dismiss Maryland-IEC’s statement of interest, noting that it disclaimed any intent to forfeit Maryland-IEC’s leasehold interests in the Properties. The district court granted the motion, finding that Maryland-IEC was a mere tenant and, thus, the Government’s concession mooted its claim to the Properties. The court declined to consider Maryland-IEC’s Waqf and constructive-trust theories, finding among other things that they were untimely asserted.

We agree with the district court. Maryland-IEC’s original statement of interest was unambiguously limited to a leasehold theory. See Maryland-IEC App. 20 (“[T]he Agreement and occupancy of nearly 30 years provides IEC with a possessory interest in the Properties․”). Maryland-IEC asserted its ownership theories for the first time in its 2013 filings. This was, unfortunately, too late. Once the Government published notice of its forfeiture suit in December 2009, Rule G(5) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty and Maritime required Maryland-IEC to file its notice of interest within sixty days. See Supp. R. G(5)(a)(ii)(B). Its original statement of interest came within that period but lacked the ownership claims.

Maryland-IEC asks us to deviate from Rule G in the interest of justice. We decline to do so. Maryland-IEC’s original statement of interest demonstrates that it was aware of the claims against its interests in the Properties. Maryland-IEC offers no persuasive reason why it could not assert its ownership theories at that time. Accordingly, Maryland-IEC’s supplemental-ownership claims are untimely.

Further, because the Government stipulated that it will not seek to terminate the leasehold interests, Maryland-IEC’s original claim is moot.

We have considered Maryland-IEC’s remaining arguments and find that they are meritless. We AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

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