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BERRUM v. U.S.

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division


April 8, 2003

JOSE BERRUM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: William T. Hart, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Jose Berrum pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute it and was sentenced to 66 months' custody. See United States v. Berrum, No. 99 CR 432 (N.D. Ill.). He is presently in custody. The present action concerns Berrum's request for return of certain property that was taken from him at the time of his arrest. Still in dispute are (a) certain personal property, (b) real property stamps, (c) Berrum's Mexican passport, and (d) $10,000 cash.

The government represents that it is unaware of any real property stamps being in its possession. The stamps could be in the sealed evidence bags containing the personal property, but the government does not believe they are contained therein. The government will not be required to further search for any real property stamps.

Since May 2002, the government has offered to return the personal property, but Berrum has not designated a person to receive the personal property on his behalf. By April 18, 2003, Berrum shall designate a person to retrieve the personal property and have that person contact the assigned Assistant United States Attorney by not later than April 30, 2003. The property must be retrieved by no later than June 9, 2003. If the personal property has not been retrieved by June 10, 2003, the government is authorized to destroy or otherwise dispose of the personal property.*fn1

According to the judgment in the criminal case, Berrum is a deportable alien. Therefore, he is subject to being deported after the completion of his term of incarceration. Thus, it is proper for the government to provide Berrum's passport to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for use during deportation proceedings. Berrum is not entitled to presently have the passport returned to him. See Onwubiko v. United States, 969 F.2d 1392, 1397 (2d Cir. 1992); Thye v. United States, 1996 WL 575941 *1 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 2, 1996); Esieke v. United States, 1993 WL 184153 *1 (E.D.N.Y. May 19, 1993); United States v. Moussa, 1993 WL 42179 *1 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 1993). See also United States v. Kouwenhoven, 602 F.2d 234, 236 (9th Cir. 1979).

Last, Berrum seeks the return of $10,000 cash. That money was forfeited through administrative proceedings. The government provides documentation that it complied with due process by providing adequate notice of those proceedings. Berrum is not entitled to the return of the cash.

All proceedings having been resolved, the present action is concluded. To the extent property has been returned to Berrum, his motion for return of property is denied as moot. As to all other aspects it is denied with prejudice.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for return of property is denied. The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of defendant and against plaintiff denying plaintiff's motion for return of property with prejudice as to two "14kt Gold Chains (belonging to defendant's children)," any passport of plaintiff, "Realty Property Stamps", and ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) cash and without prejudice as moot as to all other items. If, before June 10, 2003, a designated agent has not retrieved the remaining personal property in the possession of defendant, defendant may destroy or otherwise dispose of the personal property. If plaintiff wishes to appeal this order, he must file a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit with the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 219 South Dearborn Street, 20th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60604, within sixty (60) days of the entry of the judgment in this case.

JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE

Decision by Court. This action came to hearing before the Court. The issues have been heard and a decision has been rendered.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that judgment is entered in favor of defendant United States of America and against plaintiff Jose Berrum denying plaintiff's motion for return of property with prejudice as to two "14kt Gold Chains (belonging to defendant's children)," any passport of plaintiff, "Realty Property Stamps", and ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) cash and without prejudice as moot as to all other items.


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