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United States v. $90

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

October 30, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$90,000 IN U.S. CURRENCY, Defendant

For United States of America, Plaintiff: Stefan Dante Cassella, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rod J Rosenstein, Office of the United States Attorney, Baltimore, MD.

Latia Bowles, Estate of Nathan Bowles, Claimant, Pro se, New York, NY.

For Latia Bowles, Estate of Nathan Bowles, Claimant: Anton L Iamele, LEAD ATTORNEY, Iamele and Iamele LLP, Baltimore, MD.

Page 745

MEMORANDUM OPINION

William D. Quarles, Jr., United States District Judge.

The Government seeks to recover $90,000 in U.S. Currency which it asserts was the product of illegal drug trafficking. Pending are the Government's motion to dismiss Latia Bowles's claim against the defendant property for lack of standing and to strike portions of the answer as frivolous, the Claimant's counsel's motion to withdraw appearance, and the Government's motion for summary judgment. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the following reasons, the Government's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part, counsel's motion to withdraw will be granted, and the Government's motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I . Background[1]

On January 8, 2011, the Baltimore County Police Department responded to gunshots at 9809 Langs Road, Baltimore, Maryland. ECF No. 1 at 5.[2] The police

Page 746

discovered Nathan Bowles's body in the stairway to Apartment 1. Id. Bowles died of a gunshot wound. See id. The police obtained a search warrant for Bowles's residence. ECF No. 21-4 at 4. During the warrant, " investigators recovered approximately one ounce of marijuana, digital scales, drug packaging materials, luggage that contained dryer sheets, a handgun, and documents." Id. The police believed that Bowles had been killed in a drug deal. See id. at 4-5, 10-12.

During the investigation, the police interviewed Michael Fleetwood. Id. at 5. Fleetwood admitted that he was a drug runner for Bowles, and Bowles was a marijuana dealer. Id. Fleetwood asserted that he had rented a Honda for Bowles so that he and Bowles could travel to New York. Id. During an unrecorded portion of the interview, the Government contends that Fleetwood admitted that the trip to New York was for Bowles to buy drugs. See id.

During the interview, the police allowed Catherine Seale, Bowles's sister, to enter the interview room and speak with Fleetwood. Id. The police observed Seale and Fleetwood communicate in hand motions. See id. Seale and Fleetwood also mentioned a rental car. Id. Fleetwood gave Seale a set of keys.

The police also received an anonymous tip about the homicide. Id. at 11. The caller knew information about the homicide that was later confirmed by investigators.[3] Id. at 11-12. The caller also stated that Bowles was a known drug dealer. Id. Investigators also received information that Bowles had been seen placing a bag in a Honda just before he was killed. ECF No. 1 at 6.

The police " seized [the Honda] from the parking lot outside of the crime scene." ECF No. 21-4 at 5. They obtained the keys from Seale. Id. On January 10, 2011, the police executed a search warrant for the car. Id. Inside a canvas bag found in the car, the police recovered $90,000 in U.S. currency. Id. The currency was separated into ninety $1,000 bundles. Id. A criminal history check of Fleetwood and Bowles revealed prior drug offenses. ECF No. 1 at 6. Neither Fleetwood nor Bowles had any reportable income. Id. The Government " deemed [the $90,000] to represent drug proceeds, and . . . believed that it was ...


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