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United States v. Wallace

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

August 31, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICK WALLACE, Defendant.

          OPINION

          RICHARD MILLS, U.S. District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on remand following the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.[1]

         The Defendant, Patrick Wallace, seeks the return of certain property pursuant to Rule 41(g) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

         In this situation, he cannot prevail.

         I.

         On July 1, 2016, the Government filed a status report which included the supplemental affidavit of Special Agent Scott Giovannelli of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in addition to documents relating to the forfeiture of certain property. On July 29, 2016, the Defendant filed a response.

         In an Order entered on August 15, 2016, the Court ordered the Government to file a reply or supplemental response to the Defendant's Motion for Return for Property. The Government was directed to “address whether an effort was made to notify the Defendant at the jail where he was detained pending trial and, if not, whether the notice sent to the Defendant's home address was sufficient to comply with due process in light of applicable law.” See Doc. No. 186, at 4. The Government has filed its response as directed.

         The Court requested the supplemental response from the Government after determining from the record it was not apparent that the Defendant was served with notice of a pending forfeiture action at the county jail where he was detained pending trial on federal drug charges. The record showed that the notices of pending forfeiture relating to a washer, dryer and four televisions that were seized by Springfield Police on December 15, 2011 were sent to the Defendant's residence at 700 N. 14th Street in Springfield, Illinois, on or about January 30, 2012.

         The notice of pending forfeiture as to the washer and dryer were sent by certified mail to Wallace's home address and also to Thalia Wilson, 1224 Garland Ave., Mobile, Alabama. The notice as to the washer and dryer was received on February 4, 2012, and signed by individuals on Wallace's and Wilson's behalf. The notice provided that if a claim and cost bond is not filed by March 15, 2012, Wallace's interest will be forfeited to the State of Illinois. The Declaration of Forfeiture states that, pursuant to Section 6(D) of the Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, the Samsung Washing Machine and Samsung Dryer were forfeited to the State of Illinois. On March 16, 2012, the Declaration of Forfeiture was mailed to Wallace and Thalia Wilson.

         The notice as to the four televisions was sent by certified mail to Wallace's home address and received by an individual residing there on February 4, 2012. The notice provided that if a claim and cost bond is not filed by March 15, 2012, Wallace's interest will be forfeited to the State of Illinois. The Declaration of Forfeiture states that, pursuant to Section 6(D) of the Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, a 73'' Mitsubishi television, a 50'' Panasonic television and two Visio televisions were forfeited to the State of Illinois. On March 16, 2012, the Declaration of Forfeiture was mailed to Wallace's address.

         II.

         The Court was concerned as to whether the notice was sufficient in light of Seventh Circuit authority. In Gates v. City of Chicago, 623 F.3d 389 (7th Cir. 2010), the Seventh Circuit considered whether notice initially sent to the home address of arrestees is “reasonably calculated to reach them.” See id. at 401. “There is a risk (which we cannot quantify on this record) that incarcerated persons will never see notices that were sent to their homes, in some cases because other persons living in the home will not forward the notice to an incarcerated arrestee.” Id. at 401-02. Here, an individual at the Defendant's home address did sign to acknowledge receipt of both notices addressed to the Defendant. However, the notice was not accepted by the Defendant and there is no evidence that it was forwarded to him at the jail, where he remained in federal custody.

         Attached to the Government's motion is an affidavit of the attorney for the Government, who states there is no evidence that the State's Attorney's Office made any attempt to notify the Defendant of the pending forfeiture following his arrest and detention. Counsel states, however, that there was no communication between the United States and the State's Attorney's Office about the forfeiture. Moreover, the Government did not provide any direction to the Springfield Police Department or the State's Attorney's Office.

         Additionally, Counsel states that during the Defendant's trial which began in October of 2012-several months after the items were forfeited-the washer, dryer and four televisions were not introduced as evidence. There was a discussion about these items during the Defendant's sentencing hearing on May 24, 2013. At that time, Counsel for the Government stated it was his ...


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