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UNITED STATES v. ONE 1976 CHEVROLET CORVETTE

July 18, 1979

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ONE 1976 CHEVROLET CORVETTE, SERIAL NO. 1Z37L6S419778



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HUYETT

MEMORANDUM, FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND ORDER

The United States has commenced condemnation and forfeiture proceedings against one 1976 Chevrolet Corvette, Serial No. 1Z37L6S419778. Claimant Diane Morales as alleged owner seeks return of the vehicle. All parties agree that jurisdiction of this action exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1355. Claimant has stipulated that the government has met its initial burden of showing probable cause for the institution of the proceedings. See United States v. One 1971 Chevrolet Corvette, 393 F. Supp. 344, 346 (E.D.Pa.1975). Following a non-jury trial, I make the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. The stipulation of uncontested facts, attached hereto as Exhibit 1, is adopted, and incorporated herein by reference.

 2. On September 14, 1977, when Carmen Garcia sold heroin to an individual cooperating with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and when Carmen Garcia was operating defendant vehicle, the vehicle was registered to Adalberto Torres, 12203 Barbary Rd., Philadelphia, Pa.

 3. Claimant Diane Morales purchased defendant vehicle from Adalberto Torres on September 28 or 29, 1977, for approximately $ 4,000.00 cash.

 4. Claimant Diane Morales applied for and received a temporary registration certificate for defendant vehicle on October 1, 1977, after purchasing defendant vehicle from Adalberto Torres.

 5. On October 31, 1977, a certificate of title to a motor vehicle for defendant vehicle was issued to claimant by the Department of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 6. On September 14, 1977, defendant vehicle was neither owned by claimant Diane Morales, titled to her, in her possession or custody, nor in any manner under her control.

 7. No evidence was introduced in this proceeding linking defendant vehicle with the transportation, possession, or sale of any contraband article after September 14, 1977.

 8. No evidence was introduced in this proceeding upon which to base a finding that the purchase of defendant vehicle by claimant Diane Morales was a sham transaction intended to avoid the operation of any forfeiture statute.

 9. No evidence was introduced in this proceeding upon which to base a finding that claimant Diane Morales was aware of the sale of heroin conducted by Carmen Garcia on September 14, 1977.

 10. After she purchased defendant vehicle, claimant Diane Morales rented a garage from Carmen Garcia in which she stored defendant vehicle.

 11. Defendant vehicle was seized from the garage claimant rented from Carmen Garcia on November 22, 1977.

 12. Claimant Diane Morales did not give Carmen Garcia permission to use defendant vehicle after she purchased it.

 14. Claimant Diane Morales was not involved in the illegal transactions upon which this forfeiture action is based.

 15. At the time she purchased defendant vehicle and up until at least the time the vehicle was seized, claimant Diane Morales was unaware of the illegal transactions ...


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