United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Government brought this civil forfeiture action after seizing
a 2017 Toyota Tundra and $47, 000 from Claimant William Lee
Manns pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 881(a)(4) and
881(a)(6), respectively. The Government contends that the
property was used in connection with a controlled substance
the Court is Claimant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). (ECF No. 15). Accepting all facts alleged in the
Government's verified complaint as true, the Court DENIES
PROCEDURAL & FACTUAL HISTORY
to the verified complaint and the attached declaration by
Task Force Officer (“TFO”) Larry Brantley, TFOs
Brantley and Kyle Waddington stopped Claimant on December 27,
2018, for improper lane usage on I-70 in Madison County,
Illinois. (ECF No. 1-1 at 1). Claimant informed TFO
Waddington that he was from California and was visiting his
family in Maryland for the holidays. (ECF No. 1-1 at 1). He
said he was in a hurry to get back to California but for no
specific reason. (ECF No. 1-1 at 2). When asked about his
travel dates, Claimant informed TFO Waddington that he left
California “around Christmastime” and left
Maryland “around Christmastime.” (ECF No. 1-1 at
1). Claimant's vehicle smelled of burnt marijuana. (ECF
No. 1-1 at 2). Viewing these circumstances as suspicious,
coupled with Claimant's five previous arrests for drug
possession, “the TFOs believed that [Claimant] could be
involved in criminal activity.” (ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3).
Claimant denied having illicit drugs or large sums of
currency in his vehicle and consented to a search. (ECF No.
1-1 at 3). In the passenger-side compartment, TFO Waddington
“located a bundle of United States currency wrapped
inside aluminum foil inside a backpack.” (ECF No. 1-1
at 3). When confronted with the finding, Claimant admitted
that there was more cash located in a suitcase in the back
seat. TFO Brantley located the suitcase and discovered
“five aluminum foil bundles of United States
currency” in the inner liner. (ECF No. 1-1 at 4). TFO
Waddington gave Claimant a Miranda warning and arrested him.
(ECF No. 1-1 at 4).
way to the Fairview Heights DEA Office, Claimant
revealed-unprompted-that the cash totaled $47, 000. (ECF No.
1-1 at 4). When asked how he received the money, Claimant
stated that “multiple family members” gave him it
to purchase “a plot of land for his family to have and
to use for hunting and fishing.” (ECF No. 1-1 at 4).
Claimant arrived at the Fairview Heights DEA Office, he was
reminded of his Miranda rights and was interviewed by Group
Supervisor Robert Eisenbarger and Special Agent Jarret Neff.
(ECF No. 1-1 at 5). Claimant stated that he left California
on December 15, arrived in Maryland on December 19, and
departed on December 26. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5). He further
stated that the cash belonged to his stepfather. (ECF No. 1-1
at 6). Later in the interview, he “changed his
statement and advised that the United States currency
belonged only to him and not his stepfather.” (ECF No.
1-1 at 6). Claimant was also observed deleting text messages
from his cell phone after consenting to a search. (ECF No.
1-1 at 7). Shortly thereafter, Claimant requested a lawyer
before answering any further questions, and the interview
ended. (ECF No. 1-1 at 7).
the interview, DEA Resident Agent in Charge Michael Rehg and
IRS Special Agent Jason Bamvakais conducted a phone interview
with Claimant's stepfather. (ECF No. 1-1 at 7). He stated
that Claimant arrived at his home in Maryland on December 22
and left the following day. (ECF No. 1-1 at 7). The
stepfather also stated that he loaned Claimant $500 to get
back to California because Claimant told him that he lost his
wallet, and that was the last time they saw one another. (ECF
No. 1-1 at 7). He denied giving Claimant $47, 000 and stated
that there was “no way” either he or his wife had
“that type of money” to give. (ECF No. 1-1 at 8).
that day, TFOs Brantley and Waddington enlisted Caseyville
Police Department K9 Officer Cody Wiley to conduct a sniff on
the seized cash. (ECF No. 1-1 at 8). A sample was placed in a
clean, unused paper bag and set alongside three other bags.
(ECF No. 1-1 at 8). K9 Officer Wiley “appeared
distracted and not focused on the sniff, ” and he was
not alerted to the seized cash. (ECF No. 1-1 at 8). The next
day, Madison County K9 Deputy Kyle Doolen performed a new
sniff and was immediately alerted to the seized cash. (ECF
No. 1-1 at 8-9).
Government launched this civil forfeiture action on May 28,
2019. It alleges that the seized 2017 Toyota Tundra and $47,
000 were used in connection with a controlled substance
offense, violations of 21 U.S.C. §§ 881(a)(4) and
881(a)(6), respectively. (ECF No. 1). Claimant answered the
complaint, (ECF No. 14), and filed a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), (ECF
Court has original jurisdiction over this action pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1345 (proceeding commenced by the
United states) and 1355(b)(1) (civil asset forfeiture
proceeding brought under an Act of Congress). Venue is proper
in the Southern District of Illinois because the ...