from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 14-CF-735
Honorable John A. Barsanti, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE ZENOFF delivered the judgment of the court, with
Justices Schostok and Birkett concurred in the judgment and
1 Defendant, Isidro Pena, appeals the trial court's order
that denied his "Motion for Return of Property."
Defendant sought to vacate the administrative forfeiture of
certain property, arguing that he did not receive notice of
the forfeiture. The court held that the State's notice
was sufficient and denied the motion. Defendant contends that
the State's effort to notify him of the proceedings did
not meet constitutional standards. We vacate and remand.
2 On April 27, 2014, a Kane County sheriff's deputy
stopped a van that defendant was driving. Defendant was
arrested and charged with money laundering (720 ILCS
5/29B-1(a)(1.5)(B)(ii) (West 2014)). Defendant's van was
seized, along with $8, 986 and two cellular telephones. When
he was arrested, defendant gave his address as 14960
Chatsworth Street, Mission Hills, California.
3 On May 7, 2014, the trial court reduced defendant's
bond. Defendant's sister, Maria Delgadillo, posted bond.
As conditions of his pretrial release, defendant was ordered
to remain in Illinois and to report to pretrial services. On
May 9, he reported for intake at pretrial services. He stated
that he would be living with Delgadillo at 316 Marilyn in
Glendale Heights. Subsequently, defendant attended all
scheduled court appearances and continued to report to
pretrial services, listing the Glendale Heights address.
4 The Kane County State's Attorney sought the
administrative forfeiture of the van and the cash. At a later
court hearing, the prosecutor represented that the State had
sent notice of the forfeiture proceedings by certified mail
to the Mission Hills, California, address. On July 3, 2014,
the return receipt was returned as "UNCLAIMED UNABLE TO
FORWARD." The prosecutor further represented that the
State sent a declaration of forfeiture to the Mission Hills,
California, address on July 7, 2014, and that a tracking
service showed that the notice was left at that address.
5 During this time, the trial court denied defendant's
motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence. However,
when the case was called for trial on April 15, 2015, the
State nol-prossed the charges.
6 On May 1, 2015, defendant filed in the criminal case a
motion for the return of his property. After several
transfers between the criminal and civil divisions of the
circuit court, the case was returned to the criminal
division, where the court denied defendant's motion.
Based on the prosecutor's representations, the court
found that the State had complied with the relevant statute
in that it sent notice by certified mail to defendant's
last known address. Moreover, the statute placed the burden
on defendant to notify the State of any address changes, and
defendant had not notified the State's Attorney of his
address change. Defendant timely appealed.
7 Defendant's property was forfeited pursuant to the
money-laundering statute. 720 ILCS 5/29B-1 (West 2014). The
statute authorizes the forfeiture of any property
"constituting, derived from, or traceable to any
proceeds the person obtained" as a result of violating
the statute (720 ILCS 5/29B-1(h)(1)(A) (West 2014)) and all
conveyances used to transport such property (720 ILCS
5/29B-1(h)(1)(C) (West 2014)). If the value of the property,
excluding the value of any conveyances, is less than $20,
000, the State's Attorney may administratively forfeit
the property. The procedure for doing so is as follows:
"(1) If, after review of the facts surrounding the
seizure, the State's Attorney is of the opinion that the
seized property is subject to forfeiture, then within 45 days
after the receipt of notice of seizure from the seizing
agency, the State's Attorney shall cause notice of
pending forfeiture to be given to the owner of the property
and all known interest holders of the property in accordance
with subsection (i) of this Section.
(2) The notice of pending forfeiture must include a
description of the property, the estimated value of the
property, the date and place of seizure, the conduct giving
rise to forfeiture or the violation of law alleged, and a
summary of procedures and procedural rights applicable to the
(3)(A) Any person claiming an interest in property which is
the subject of notice under paragraph (1) of this subsection
(k), must, in order to preserve any rights or claims to the
property, within 45 days after the effective date of notice
as described in subsection (i) of this Section, file a
verified claim with the State's Attorney expressing his