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U.S. v. ONE PARCEL OF REAL ESTATE

September 21, 1995

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ONE PARCEL OF REAL ESTATE LOCATED AT RURAL ROUTE 9, LA HARPE, ILLINOIS, AND ALL APPURTENANCES AND IMPROVEMENTS THEREON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McDADE, District Judge.

ORDER

Before the Court is Claimant Robert Jones' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. #76], the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment Pertaining To Robert Lynn Jones [Doc. #78], and the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment Pertaining to Jeanette Jones [Doc. #80].

BACKGROUND

This case involves the U.S. Government's seizure of property pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) and § 881(a)(7). Robert Lynn Jones ("Jones") was part of a marijuana and cocaine distribution ring operated in Hancock County, Illinois. Jones allegedly exchanged motorcycle parts for marijuana at his motorcycle repair shop in LaHarpe, Illinois, and used the proceeds of his drug transactions to purchase motorcycles, boats, jet skis, tools, and other personal items. To hide the source of the money, Jones allegedly titled some of the personal items in the names of his wife, daughter, and uncle.

On December 5, 1991, the United States obtained a judgment of forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881 for Jones' 1988 Bayliner cabin cruiser. On May 29, 1992, the United States obtained another judgment of forfeiture for $11,410 belonging to Jones. In neither of these cases did Jones file a claim on the forfeited property.

In 1991, Jones was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, 21 U.S.C. § 846 & § 841(b)(1)(A); distribution of marijuana, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B); conspiracy to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846 & § 841(b)(1)(B); distribution of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B); and money laundering, 18 U.S.C. § 1956. In December 1992, a jury found Jones guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and distribution of cocaine. In a separate jury trial in June 1993, another jury found Jones guilty of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, distribution of marijuana, and money laundering. On January 10, 1994, this Court sentenced Jones to two hundred and forty months in prison for all six counts.

In the present case, the Government is attempting to obtain another civil forfeiture judgment against Jones. The Government's Amended Complaint consists of eleven counts,*fn1 each one naming a different item of property. In Count 1, the Government invokes 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7) to claim the real estate encompassing Jones' motorcycle shop in which Jones allegedly conducted his illegal activities. Counts 3 through 11 invoke 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) to claim six motorcycles, a jet ski, a trailer, and miscellaneous tools and equipment. All of these items were allegedly purchased with the proceeds of Jones' marijuana sales.

Robert Jones and his wife, Jeanette Jones, each filed claims to recover all of the property in question. The United States filed separate motions for summary judgment against Robert Jones and Jeanette Jones. In its summary judgment motion against Jeanette Jones, the Government argued that Mrs. Jones had no standing to file a claim on the property. Mrs. Jones did not contest the Government's motion. Thus, the Court grants the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment Pertaining to Jeanette Jones.

ANALYSIS

"A motion for summary judgment is not an appropriate occasion for weighing evidence; rather, the inquiry is limited to determining if there is a genuine issue for trial." Lohorn v. Michal, 913 F.2d 327, 331 (7th Cir. 1990); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510-11, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). This Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). When faced with a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party may not rest on its pleadings. Rather, it is necessary for the nonmoving party to demonstrate, through specific evidence, that there remains a genuine issue of triable fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Bank Leumi Le-Israel, B.M. v. Lee, 928 F.2d 232, 236 (7th Cir. 1991).

Jones asserts that because the Government has "punished" him for the same offense on three previous occasions, the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment now bars the United States from obtaining a civil forfeiture over his property under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6)*fn3 & § 881(a)(7).*fn4 The three prior punishments upon which Jones relies are: (1) the civil forfeiture of his Bayliner cabin cruiser on December 5, 1991; (2) the civil forfeiture of $11,410 which belonged to Jones; and (3) this Court's sentence on January 10, 1994, of 240 months in prison for his six convictions.

The Civil Forfeiture Actions

Jones asserts that the Government's two previous forfeiture actions constitute former punishment for purposes of the Double Jeopardy Clause. However, Jones did not make any claim to the property in either of those actions. In United States v. Torres, 28 F.3d 1463 (7th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 115 S.Ct. 669, 130 L.Ed.2d 603 (1994), the Seventh Circuit encountered this exact situation. In that case, the defendant tried to assert that the Government could not criminally prosecute him a second time because a civil forfeiture proceeding had already been brought against him. Id. at 1464. The Government had sent Torres notice inviting him to make a claim in the civil forfeiture proceeding, but he had not responded. Id. at 1465. As a result, Torres did not become a party to the forfeiture and a default judgment was entered against him. Id. The court concluded, "There was no trial; the $60,000 was forfeited without opposition, and jeopardy did not attach. You can't have double jeopardy without a former jeopardy. . . . As a non-party, Torres was not at risk in the forfeiture proceeding, and '[w]ithout risk of a determination of guilt, jeopardy does not attach.'" Id. citing Serfass v. United States, 420 U.S. ...


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