Government seeks York's money,
Macon Telegraph/July 23, 2003
By Rob Peecher
Eatonton -- The U.S. Attorney's office in Macon has filed a
civil suit seeking the forfeiture of money and property from cult
leader Malachi York.
The property includes the 476-acre Putnam County compound where
York and his followers, the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors,
erected pyramids, a sphinx and other Egyptian-style statues. The
government also wants York's home that is in an upscale Athens
neighborhood. York's followers refer to the home as "the mansion."
Also, U.S. District Court Judge Ashley Royal will preside over
York's federal criminal case after Judge Hugh Lawson recused
himself, according to the federal clerk of court's office.
Lawson had rejected a negotiated plea agreement between the
government and York's defense team because he believed the 15-year
negotiated sentence was too lenient. One of York's attorneys said
this week that the defense is hopeful that Royal will accept the
In addition to the two properties being sought through the
civil suit, the government is also seeking the forfeiture of
$430,000 seized by federal agents who raided the compound and
York's Athens home when he was arrested in May of 2002.
U.S. Attorney Max Wood said Tuesday that when Lawson rejected
the negotiated plea the government effectively lost the $430,000
which York had forfeited as part of the plea. The civil suit seeks
to allow the government to regain that money and adds the two
"What we're doing is we filed a civil action, a forfeiture
action, against the money seized back in May of 2002 and against
the property, and that is a result of the plea being rejected by
Judge Lawson," Wood said.
Though York was for several years the sole owner of the
property in Putnam County, shortly before his arrest he deeded the
property to three members of his group: Ethel Richardson, Anthony
Evans and Patrice Evans. To take the property, the government will
have to prove that York effectively maintained control of the
property and conducted criminal activity there.
"We have a burden of proving that criminal activity was
associated with that property," Wood said.
The three people who hold title to the land "would be entitled
to respond to any forfeiture complaint we filed," Wood said.
The government has maintained possession of the cash since it
was seized during York's arrest and during the raids on the two
properties, and will hold it while it is still subject to civil
After his arrest, York was indicted by a federal grand jury and
a Putnam County grand jury. In January, just before the trial was
to begin on the state charges, York pleaded guilty in federal
court to one count of attempting to evade federal financial
reporting requirements and one count of transporting minors across
state lines for the purpose of having sex with them. He then
pleaded guilty to 77 state charges mostly involving child
molestation and aggravated child molestation.