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UNITED STATES v. MESSINO

March 11, 1996

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
CHRISTOPHER RICHARD MESSINO and CLEMENT MESSINO



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 On February 12, 1996, the court held an evidentiary hearing on the third-party claim of the estate of Biagio Messino to property located at 17027 Forest Avenue, Oak Forest, Illinois, a 1987 Crew Cab pickup truck, and a 1987 Wellcraft Scarab speedboat, all of which were ordered forfeited in connection with the above-captioned criminal case.

 The court, based upon the credible evidence of record, makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

 I. Property Located at 17027 Forest Avenue, Oak Forest, Illinois

 A. FINDINGS OF FACT

 Facts

 1. The property that was the subject of the forfeiture hearing is a 9.76 percent interest in property located at 17027 Forest Avenue, Oak Forest, Illinois ("Forest property").

 2. The jury returned a special verdict of forfeiture at the end of the criminal trial of Clement and Christopher Richard Messino as to the Forest property.

 3. The court entered a preliminary order of forfeiture against the Forest property on August 21, 1995.

 4. In 1982, Clement Messino and his girlfriend, Robin Smith ("Smith") (now Robin George), purchased a residence at 15201 Lavergne, Oak Forest, Illinois ("Lavergne property"), on contract for $ 66,500.

 5. Smith lived at the Lavergne property until 1989, and Clement Messino stayed with her frequently until 1987, when he went to prison.

 6. In April or May 1989, Robin Smith quitclaimed her interest in the Lavergne property, which she held in the form of a trust, and transferred her interest to Biagio Messino.

 7. Clement Messino gave Smith the money for her interest and signed Biagio Messino's name to the trust assignment document; Biagio Messino was not present.

 8. Thereafter, Clement Messino lived with his girlfriend, Kathy Lewis ("Lewis"), at the Lavergne property.

 9. Biagio Messino never lived at the Lavergne property.

 10. Clement Messino explained to Lewis that he placed title to the Lavergne property in Biagio Messino's name to avoid problems with the Internal Revenue Service.

 11. In 1991, Clement Messino decided to sell the Lavergne property.

 12. On or about July 29, 1991, Clement Messino sold the Lavergne property to Dale and Betty Ann Darling for 124,000, with proceeds of $ 111,819.13.

 13. Some time prior to June 22, 1991, Clement Messino and Lewis met with Joseph Koce ("Koce"), owner of the Forest property, at the Forest property to discuss purchasing the property. Clement Messino offered Koce $ 138,000 for the property, but Koce rejected the offer.

 14. On June 22, 1991, Clement Messino successfully bid $ 130,000 for the Forest property at a real estate auction.

 15. Sam Delisi ("Delisi") testified at the criminal trial of Clement and Christopher Richard Messino that he put up $ 12,700 at the real estate auction for the house that Biagio Messino was purchasing. He testified at the criminal trial that Biagio Messino had asked Delisi to loan Biagio Messino money, take it to the real estate auction, and, if Clement Messino's bid on behalf of Biagio Messino was accepted, to give the money to the auctioneer as a down payment on the Forest property. Delisi testified that he did as he was asked.

 16. On or about July 26, 1991, Clement Messino's attorney, Michael Gubbins, arranged to have the Forest property put in a land trust for the benefit of Biagio Messino.

 17. On or about July 29, 1991, the same day as the closing on the Lavergne property, the closing on the Forest property was held.

 18. The balance of the monies necessary to close on the Forest property came from the proceeds of the Lavergne property.

 19. Biagio Messino did not go to the Forest property to see Koce or attend the auction.

 20. Biagio Messino did not attend the closing for the sale of the Lavergne residence or the purchase of the Forest property.

 21. Clement Messino moved into the Forest property with Lewis after the closing on the Forest property on July 29, 1991.

 22. After Clement Messino was incarcerated following his conviction in 92 CR 69, his wife Pamela Messino lived at the Forest property.

 23. Biagio Messino lived in a house at 10758 South Whipple, Chicago, Illinois, for 56 years.

 24. Biagio Messino never lived at the Forest property.

 25. According to the record in the criminal trial, Delisi had obtained money orders for Christopher Richard Messino on several occasions. On one occasion, for example, Delisi purchased a money order totalling $ 9,000 made payable to Jerry Haas for construction of the "Shake, Rattle & Run" race car.

 Witnesses

 Claimant's witness

 26. Sam Delisi testified at the criminal trial of Clement and ...


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