GERALD J. WEBER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The United States has brought these forfeiture proceedings pursuant to the Drug Abuse Prevention Act, 21 U.S.C. § 881 et seq., seeking to have two parcels of real property forfeited on the theory that the properties were used to facilitate violations of the federal narcotics laws. See, 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7). Titles to both properties are held by Ronald Thomas and his wife Jeannine, as tenants by the entirety.
Ronald Thomas was convicted and sentenced by this Court on September 23, 1988, on one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine; four counts of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute; one count of using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine; and one count of failing to report gross receipts from the sale of cocaine on his 1986 federal income tax return.
Claims to both properties herein have been filed by Ronald and Jeannine Thomas. We previously rejected the claims of their two sons. The claimants do not contest that the United States has met its burden of establishing probable cause to believe that the Caughey Road property was used by Ronald Thomas to store and sell cocaine. They do, however, contest the adequacy of the government's evidence as to the West 26th Street property. Jeannine Thomas also asserts that her interest in both properties is exempted from forfeiture by the innocent owner provision of 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7).
On May 1, 1989, a non-jury trial was held by this Court in which a full opportunity was given to the claimants to contest the probable cause as to the 26th Street property, and to Jeannine Thomas to establish her entitlement to the innocent owner exemption. Pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 52(a), we now present our findings of fact and conclusions of law.
I. Probable Cause as to West 26th Street Property
Findings of Fact
1. Ronald Thomas was a member of a large scale conspiracy to distribute cocaine, from the Spring of 1983 until January 16, 1987.
2. The West 26th Street property was purchased by the Thomases on October 31, 1984.
3. Ronald Thomas operated a used car sales business known as Sterling Motors from the property until the time it was seized.
4. Joseph Long was employed by Ron Thomas at the car lot during 1985 and 1986 and on occasion he received quantities of cocaine from Thomas as payment for his services.
5. Thomas regularly stored cocaine at the car lot, used and shared it with others on the premises, and supplied it to others on the premises.
6. Although Long saw cocaine supplied to others at the car lot, he never saw any money exchanged for cocaine at the lot.
7. Jeff Connelly received cocaine from Thomas at the car lot and overheard conversations there about purchases.
8. Sebastian Ambrogio once picked up $ 1,000 cash at the car lot from Thomas, which was to be applied to a $ 10,000 debt for cocaine that Thomas had bought from Patrick DiLoreto.
9. Joseph Luciano sold a car to Thomas at the car lot, and in exchange got $ 500 "knocked off" his cocaine debt with Thomas.
10. Ron Thomas testified that he never sold cocaine from his car lot because he was afraid of losing his license.
11. Thomas did admit, however, that he shared cocaine with others at the car lot.
Conclusions of Law
We find the evidence presented by the United States herein, sufficient to establish probable cause that the West 26th Street property was used to facilitate violations of the federal narcotics laws. We further find Ronald Thomas' denial of "sales" from the car lot to be nothing more than a "red herring." Thomas' admission of shared usage is sufficient to establish a "distribution." In addition, Thomas did not deny Long's testimony that he was paid in cocaine, or Ambrogio's or Luciano's testimony. Any one of those transactions would suffice as facilitating a violation of the federal narcotics laws. We therefore conclude that the United States has met its burden of establishing probable cause and that that showing remains unrebutted. Accordingly, the United States is entitled to judgment in its favor as to Ronald Thomas' claims to both the Caughey Road and West 26th Street properties.
II. Innocent Owner Exemption - Jeannine Thomas
Section 881(a)(7) provides an exemption from forfeiture for those whom are commonly referred to as "innocent owners:"
. . . no property shall be forfeited under this paragraph, to the extent of an interest of an owner, by reason of any act or omission established by that owner to have been committed or omitted without the knowledge or consent of that owner.
In providing for this exemption, Congress clearly evidenced in its language its intent to place the burden of proof upon the claimant asserting it. The government need not prove that the claimant had actual knowledge. Rather, it is the claimant's responsibility to prove the absence of actual knowledge. United States v. Four Million Two Hundred Fifty-Five Thousand, 762 F.2d 895, 907 (11th Cir. 1985). Nevertheless, Claimant Jeannine Thomas argues that property held by tenants by the entireties can only be forfeited upon a greater showing of criminal culpability on behalf of both spouses. We cannot agree. Congress clearly and unequivocably indicated what the relevant inquiry should be. In doing so, it did not distinguish between a claim of innocent ownership by a spouse as opposed to such a claim by any other person. Similarly, we are not aware of any court, which in considering § 881(a)(7), has found that any different standard should apply to spouses holding property as tenants by the entireties. We conclude that the relevant inquiry herein, is that which was clearly provided for by Congress - whether Jeannine Thomas can establish by a preponderance of evidence that she did not have knowledge of or consent to Ronald's use of the properties to facilitate the distribution of cocaine. See, United States v. 30.80 Acres, Bruce Twp., Guilford City, N.C., 665 F. Supp. 422 (M.D. N.C. 1987) and United States v. 124 East North Ave., Lake Forest, IIl., 651 F. Supp. 1350 (N.D. Ill. 1987).
In addition to the previous findings of fact, we make several further findings relating to the question of Jeannine's knowledge of her husband's activities.
Findings of Fact