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People v. Pena

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

May 16, 2017

ISIDRO PENA, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal 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 opinion.

          Justices Schostok and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 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 forfeiture action.
(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 or ...

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