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People v. One 2000 Ford F-350 Pickup Truck

April 14, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Ogle County. No. 00--MR--37 Stephen C. Pemberton, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gilleran Johnson


The State sought the forfeiture of a 2000 Ford F-350 pickup truck, $19,000, and $6,294 after the truck's driver, Troy Aumann (hereafter the claimant), was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. The claimant contested the forfeiture. After a hearing, the court ordered the truck and the $19,000 forfeited. The claimant appeals, contending that (1) the truck should not have been forfeited because it did not facilitate his possession of the marijuana; and (2) the $19,000 should not have been forfeited because he proved that the $19,000 was for a legitimate purpose and was not drug proceeds.


The following evidence was adduced at trial. On August 2, 2000, Illinois State Police Sergeant John Clark saw a white pickup truck carrying two "four-wheelers" and pulling a trailer, traveling 72 miles per hour on Interstate 39. Clark relayed the information to Trooper Kevin Johnson, who stopped the truck.

Johnson told the driver, whom he identified as the claimant, that he would issue him a speeding ticket and asked the claimant to accompany him to his squad car. Upon entering the car, Johnson detected a strong odor of cannabis coming from the claimant. Johnson asked the claimant whether he had any cannabis in the vehicle, to which the latter replied, "I don't do that shit."

As he completed the citation, Johnson learned that the claimant had an active warrant for his arrest. The claimant was accordingly moved to the backseat of the squad car. Trooper J.E. Clark arrived at the scene and Johnson asked him to confirm his impression about the smell of marijuana. J.E. Clark went to speak to the other occupants of the truck and perform a search incident to arrest. The claimant then admitted that there was a "little bit of cannabis" in the console of his truck. J.E. Clark found a small amount of marijuana where the claimant had said it would be.

A few minutes later, Sergeant John Clark arrived. While he stayed with the claimant, Johnson and J.E. Clark resumed searching the truck. Johnson found a glass "one-hitter" pipe and "specks" that in his experience appeared to be marijuana. As Johnson finished his search, Clark said that he had found a plastic bag with a large amount of what appeared to be marijuana and a large amount of cash. At some point, Johnson also searched a toolbox in the bed of the truck where he found a duffel bag, underneath which was another small amount of marijuana.

Johnson returned to the squad car, where the claimant volunteered that the money and the marijuana were his. He said that the money was from a motorcycle that he had recently sold. The claimant also told Johnson that had Johnson "not been going so fast" in searching the duffel bag, he would have found more marijuana inside. Johnson re-searched the duffel bag and found four plastic bags, each containing suspected marijuana and weighing a combined 36 grams.

Johnson and Special Agent Mark Thatcher field-tested some of the material found in the duffel bag. It tested positive for the presence of cannabis. Johnson collected $4,600 that was inside the claimant's wallet and another $1,694 from his pants pocket. The claimant told Johnson that another $19,000 was in the trailer.

Illinois State Police Inspector Keane Hudson testified that he transported the claimant's truck to district headquarters. He collected suspected marijuana totaling about three grams from various parts of the truck. Those samples were sent to the state crime lab where they tested positive for cannabis.

Thatcher testified that he and Johnson interviewed the claimant at the Ogle County jail. The claimant told him that he had sold a 1997 Harley Davidson motorcycle to his uncle, Charles Wilson, for $27,000. The claimant said that he had just received the money that evening. He then purchased 7½ ounces of marijuana for $250 per ounce. He was on his way to Ravenden, Arkansas. All of the marijuana was for his personal use. Thatcher phoned Wilson, who said he had not purchased a motorcycle from the claimant. Wilson said that he had given the claimant some money but would not say how much.

Later, Wilson called Thatcher and said that he had given the claimant $19,000 in cash. He had withdrawn the money from a bank earlier in the week. Wilson said that the claimant needed the money to build a house in Arkansas.

Thatcher asked the claimant to assist in the investigation of what he believed was a drug transaction. In response, the claimant said that he did not think the State Police could protect him or his family from the source of the drugs or the people to whom the claimant had to take the money.

The claimant called Charles Wilson, who testified that the claimant was his nephew. Wilson was awakened late at night on August 2, 2000, by his daughter, Ashley, who said the police were on the phone. Wilson had been asleep and was taking pain medication for his back. Wilson told the caller he had loaned the claimant $19,000 in cash to build a home in Arkansas.

Wilson testified that he could not read. Thus, he prepared no loan documents for the transaction with his nephew. He had loaned the claimant money several times previously and had never used loan documents. Wilson identified photographs of a foundation and ...

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