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UNITED STATES v. 16 SEQUOIA

May 17, 1991

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
16 SEQUOIA, HAWTHORNE WOODS, ILLINOIS, et al., Defendants, PEGGY KYKTA, MYRON KYKTA, and OLGA KYKTA, Claimants


George M. Marovich, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MAROVICH

GEORGE M. MAROVICH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 The United States of America ("Government") seeks forfeiture of approximately $ 250,000 in cash and a house located at 16 Sequoia, Hawthorne Woods, Illinois ("16 Sequoia") pursuant to 21 U.S.C. ยง 881(a)(6) & (7). The Government contends that the cash is the proceeds of illegal drug transactions and 16 Sequoia was used to facilitate felony drug offenses. Myron Kykta ("Kykta") claims ownership of the money and the house. *fn1" The Government moves for summary judgment of forfeiture of the money and 16 Sequoia. For the reasons set forth below, summary judgment of forfeiture is granted.

 UNCONTROVERTED FACTS *fn2"

 In early May of 1989, the United Parcel Service intercepted a package addressed to Kykta at 16 Sequoia containing one kilogram of cocaine. On May 18, 1989, a special agent of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group ("MEG") delivered the package to Kykta at 16 Sequoia. Afterwards, MEG agents searched 16 Sequoia and found six keys to safe deposit boxes. The agents then searched the safe deposit boxes and found approximately $ 250,000 in cash.

 At a bench trial before the Circuit Court of Lake County Illinois ("Circuit Court"), Kykta testified that the money found in the safe deposit boxes was the proceeds of the sale of his coin collection. Kykta was convicted by the Circuit Court of possession of a kilogram of cocaine with intent to deliver. As part of its ruling, the Circuit Court made the following findings:

 
I do believe that the defendant acknowledged that he was waiting for a package from Florida. I think his presence at the house at that particular time adds to that, . . . .
 
Significant evidence in this case towards possession with the intent to deliver of cocaine is the money in safety deposit boxes. The mere possession of money in and of itself is not particularly indicative of guilt, and I would have to say that the fact that the cocaine may be present and the money is a very small factor to be considered because probably unfortunately in this day and age, at least as the trier of fact, I would have to say there's probably cocaine and an awful lot of money that's around. . . .
 
I heard a number of witnesses concerning coin dealing. The defendant may well have collected coins, may well have sold some coins, may well have done some dealings with his family concerning coin dealing to explain large sums of money. Very frankly, the entire -- I don't find credible that people who go to coin collections to buy and sell coins don't have cash with them to make purchases. I don't believe the defendant's testimony. I didn't find the defendant to be credible on the stand, and I don't believe that that money in the safety deposits -- I don't find as the trier of the fact, I don't believe that the money in the safety deposit boxes was the proceeds of sales of coins.
 
When we take each piece of evidence alone, it's not sufficient. When we take each piece of evidence together, they are building blocks that all taken together bring this Court to an inescapable conclusion which I find is beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did in fact know what was in the package delivered, that he was in fact in possession knowingly of in excess of nine hundred grams of a substance containing cocaine. That taken together with . . . the amount of controlled substances that it is, taken together with the money, . . . and the handgun, that the defendant was in fact in possession as is charged in Count I with the intent to deliver that cocaine, I therefore find the defendant guilty in the manner and form as charged in Count I.

 (Report of Proceedings in The People of the State of Illinois v. Kykta, No. 89 CF 969, September 11, 1989 at pages 62-64.)

 The Government now brings the present forfeiture action to obtain 16 Sequoia and the cash. The Government has moved for summary judgment contending that Kykta is collaterally estopped by his Circuit Court conviction from denying that 16 Sequoia was used to facilitate narcotics trafficking and that the cash was the proceeds of drug transactions. Kykta responds by claiming estoppel does not arise because he did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate issues regarding 16 Sequoia or the money at his criminal trial. Furthermore, Kykta submits that the issues decided by the Circuit Court differ from the issues decided here, and therefore he is not estopped from presenting exculpatory evidence to challenge the Government's forfeiture case. For the reasons set forth below, we enter summary judgment of forfeiture in favor of the Government.

 DISCUSSION

 Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the record and all inferences to be drawn from it in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-323. Beard v. Whitley County REMC., 840 F.2d 405, 409-410 (7th Cir. 1988). However, a party confronted by a motion for summary judgment, who bears the burden of ...


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