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United States v. $15

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 26, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$15,860 IN U.S. CURRENCY, et al., Defendants; OMAR STEELE, Claimant

Page 836

For United States of America, Plaintiff: Deborah A Johnston, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Greenbelt, MD; Richard Charles Kay, Rod J Rosenstein, Office of the United States Attorney, Baltimore, MD.

For Omar Steele, Claimant: Kira Anne West, Law Office of Kira Anne West, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 837

ROGER W. TITUS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pending before the Court is Claimant Omar Steele's motion to dismiss, and, in the alternative, motion for a more definite statement. Because the United States has stated its claim with particularity and provided sufficient facts to support a reasonable belief that it can meet its burden at trial, the motion shall be denied.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Between November of 2011 and January of 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (" DEA" ) and the Montgomery County Police Department investigated an individual named Saul Calderon Mata. ECF No. 1 at 4.[1] Mata's intercepted phone calls indicated that Claimant was arranging drug transactions between Mata and third parties. Id. at 4-5. On January 9, 2012, Claimant was indicted on drug related charges. Id. at 5. Subsequently, on January 25, 2012, pursuant to a search warrant, Claimant's home in Upper Marlboro, Maryland was searched. Id. Claimant's wife was present during this search. Id. The search recovered $1,250 located on the dining room table, $10,590 located in a black case concealed in a utility closet, and $15,960 located in a cardboard drum filled with clothing and linens. Id. at 6. All of the money was found in $1,000 bundles bound by black rubber bands. Id. at 7. Claimant's wife indicated that the $10,590 was her money from the sale of a salon that she previously owned in New York. Id. at 6. Although the sale of her salon was corroborated by the salon's current owner, there were no IRS forms related to the sale. Neither Claimant nor his wife offered an explanation for the $15,960. Id. at 6-8.[2]

On January 27, 2012, pursuant to a search warrant, Claimant's second home in Hyattsville, Maryland was searched. Id. at 8. This search revealed two digital scales which appeared to have cocaine residue on them, drug packaging materials, and a gold pendant valued at $15,075. Id. Claimant's fingerprint was found on one of the recovered scales. Id.

A wage record check performed on Claimant revealed no history of wages. Id. A wage record check performed on Claimant's wife revealed earnings of $36.25 in the fourth quarter of 2010. Id. [3]

The defendant property, $15,860 in U.S. currency and the gold pendant valued at $15,075, is in the custody of the United States Marshall Service. Id at ¶ 4, 8.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On June 8, 2012, the government filed this forfeiture action, asserting that the named property is connected to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. ECF No. 1 at 1-2. The government ...


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