THE PEOPLE ex rel. BRENDAN F. KELLY, State's Attorney of St. Clair County, Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellant,
SIXTEEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($16,500) UNITED STATES CURRENCY, Defendant-Appellee; (William Warner and Cynthia Warner, Petitioners-Appellees; and St. Clair County State's Attorney, Respondent-Appellant)
Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. Nos. 12-MR-139 & 12-MR-250. Honorable Robert B. Haida and Honorable Stephen P. McGlynn, Judges, presiding.
The trial court's order vacating the State's declaration of forfeiture under the Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act and resetting the matter for a probable cause hearing was reversed on the ground that petitioners had no standing to contest the forfeiture, notwithstanding the fact that a package containing a large amount of currency had been delivered to their address in the name of an unknown person and petitioners had turned the package over to the police and then claimed the money in the subsequent forfeiture proceedings after they were not given proper notice under the Act, since petitioners failed to file a verified claim and cost bond pursuant to the Act after they received actual notice of the forfeiture proceedings.
For Appellant: Hon. Brendan F. Kelly, State's Attorney, Belleville, IL; Patrick Delfino, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Kelly M. Stacey, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Mt. Vernon, IL.
For Appellees: Francine M. Johnston, Neubauer & Johnston, Fairview Heights, IL.
JUSTICE WEXSTTEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Honorable Richard P. Goldenhersh, J., and Honorable Melissa A. Chapman, J., Concur.
The plaintiff, the People of the State of Illinois ex rel . Brendan F. Kelly, State's Attorney of St. Clair County, administratively declared $16,500 in United States currency forfeited pursuant to the Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act (the
Forfeiture Act) (725 ILCS 150/1 to 14 (West 2012)). The petitioners, William and Cynthia Warner, filed a petition to vacate the State's administrative order and dismiss the forfeiture proceedings. The circuit court entered orders finding that the State improperly denied the petitioners notice in the forfeiture action, vacating the State's administrative declaration of forfeiture, and resetting its previous probable cause hearing to allow notice to be given the petitioners. The State appeals, arguing that the circuit court violated the separation of powers clause of article II, section 1, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, § 1), that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to vacate the State's declaration of forfeiture, and that the petitioners had no standing to contest the forfeiture. We reverse.
On or about March 24, 2012, the United States Postal Service delivered a package to the petitioners, addressed to D. Johnson in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The return address on the package indicated that it was mailed from B. Williams at the petitioners' address in Fairview Heights, Illinois, and the package had been stamped " return to sender." The petitioners were unaware of a B. Williams. On April 9, 2012, William found inside the package $16,500 wrapped in cellophane and thereafter turned the currency over to the Fairview Heights police department.
On April 19, 2012, the State filed a request for preliminary review to determine probable cause that the property may be subject to forfeiture pursuant to the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570/505 (West 2012)) and the Forfeiture Act (725 ILCS 150/3.5 (West 2012)), and the State filed an amended request later that day. In the request, the State alleged that the Fairview Heights police department seized $16,500 from " D. Johnson and/or Other Unknown Claimants" and that " due notice *** was given to the Claimant." The State alleged that the property was subject to forfeiture because a trained narcotics-detecting dog reacted to the presence of narcotics on the currency and the amount of currency seized was substantial and inexplicable. The State's request showed that " D. Johnson" was given notice of seizure and intent to forfeit the $16,500.
In the affidavit in support of forfeiture, Lieutenant Steven Evans stated that on April 9, 2012, he seized $16,500 in United States currency from 64 Pine Trail, Fairview Heights, Illinois. Lieutenant Evans stated that William had contacted him and that they opened the package delivered to the petitioners, thereby finding the $16,500. Lieutenant Evans stated that the narcotics-detection dog thereafter vigorously alerted to the package containing the money.
On April 20, 2012, the circuit court entered an order finding that probable cause existed that $16,500 seized " from D. Johnson and/or Other Unknown Claimants" may be subject to forfeiture. On April 24, 2012, the State issued a notice of pending forfeiture to D. Johnson, but the ...