Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Monroe County; Honorable James R. Marsh, Presiding Judge.
Letty A. Kress, Deputy Atty. Gen., Ernest D. Preate, Jr., Atty. Gen., Harrisburg, for appellant.
Joseph R. D'Andrea, Scranton, for appellees.
Barry and Colins (p.), JJ., and Kalish, Senior Judge.
[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 174]
This case involves three consolidated appeals taken by the Commonwealth from orders entered by the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas (trial court). Each appeal concerns a petition for forfeiture which was denied before the Commonwealth had the opportunity to present evidence. We reverse.
Appeal No. 13 C.D.1989 involves the seizure by the Pennsylvania State Police of one (1) white 1974 Chevrolet Box-type Truck, vehicle Identification No. CGY354U118303, which was seized pursuant to Section 28(a)(4) of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act (Act).*fn1 On June 25, 1984, the State Police executed a search warrant on the defendant/property pursuant to a criminal investigation. As a result of that search, police located and seized from within the vehicle drug paraphernalia and various chemicals known to be used for manufacturing, compounding,
[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 175]
processing, or producing methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance. Based upon the property seized from the vehicle, it was determined that the vehicle was being used as, or used to transport, a clandestine portable methamphetamine laboratory. Accordingly, the Commonwealth instituted forfeiture proceedings against the vehicle.
The forfeiture petition was presented to the trial court on October 3, 1988, for a rule to show cause why the petition should not be granted. The trial court requested and received an amended petition on October 13, 1988, which indicated that no owner had been charged with a drug violation in connection with the search conducted on the vehicle.*fn2 However, instead of issuing the rule, the trial court entered an order denying the Commonwealth's petition for forfeiture without providing the Commonwealth the opportunity to present evidence. The trial court's order stated that the Commonwealth failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence a reasonable nexus between the defendant and any crime.
In appeal No. 14 C.D.1989, the State Police seized $380.00 in currency pursuant to Section 28(a)(6)(i) of the Act*fn3 following an undercover drug purchase on November 3, 1987, and another foiled attempt on February 16, 1988, by an agent of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Narcotics Investigations and Drug Control. At the time the owner of the defendant/property was arrested,
[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 176]
the State Police found three ounces of cocaine on his person in addition to ...