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12/23/87 In Re Twenty-Seven Thousand Four Hundred Forty Dollars (the

December 23, 1987

IN RE TWENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FORTY DOLLARS (THE


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

People ex rel. Edward F. Petka, State's Attorney of

Will County, Plaintiff-Appellant, v.

Twenty-Seven Thousand Four Hundred Forty Dollars,

Defendant-Appellee)

517 N.E.2d 704, 164 Ill. App. 3d 44, 115 Ill. Dec. 293 1987.IL.1909

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Herman Haase, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE BARRY delivered the opinion of the court. WOMBACHER and SCOTT, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BARRY

The State brought this action in the circuit court of Will County as a complaint for forfeiture of $27,440 in United States currency pursuant to section 505 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1505) (the Act). The currency was claimed by Isabelle Vasquez, a Columbian native. The court, after hearing the matter, denied the complaint and ordered that the money be returned to Mrs. Vasquez. The State brings this appeal, challenging the trial court's ruling. For reasons that follow, we affirm.

According to the record on appeal, Alejandro Vasquez, Isabelle's husband and a Columbian native as well, was stopped by Will County sheriff's deputy Frank Pena for drunk driving in the early morning hours of September 3, 1986. Vasquez' passenger, Alberto Gomingez, or Gomez, reportedly told Pena that they had driven to a park in Springfield and that two paper bags were there exchanged. A search of Vasquez' vehicle revealed a paper bag under the driver's seat and containing 969 bills of United States currency valued at $27,440. Both Vasquez and Gomingez denied knowledge or ownership of the bag of money.

The money was taken into custody by Wilmington Police Chief Franklin Lyons and submitted to the crime laboratory to determine whether any cocaine could be detected on the bills. Devendra Trivedi, a forensic scientist, conducted three tests on the currency and determined that a residue on the bills contained cocaine. The residue had not been visible to the naked eye. During cross-examination, Trivedi admitted that the small amount of cocaine could have been on a single bill.

On November 6, 1986, Isabelle Vasquez, through her attorney, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. In support of the motion, she filed an affidavit claiming that she had received the money around September 1, 1986, from her uncle, Carlos Rodriguez in New York, to be used for the purchase of an apartment building in Palatine, Illinois. Isabelle further averred that she had placed the money in her automobile on September 2, intending to deposit it the following day. However, her husband, Alejandro, had taken the vehicle without her knowledge that evening; and she was notified around 2:30 a.m. on the 3rd that Alejandro had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The trial court heard the claimant's motion on December 16 and denied it.

At trial on January 26, 1987, the State introduced the testimony of Police Chief Lyons and Devendra Trivedi. The State then rested, as did the defense, without presenting any evidence. After closing arguments, the court stated that the currency could not be traced to any particular drug transaction, and that without a sufficient nexus between any violation of the ...


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