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United States v. Various Computers And Computer Equipment

March 30, 1996

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

APPELLEE,

v.

VARIOUS COMPUTERS AND COMPUTER EQUIPMENT, PARIS FRANCIS LUNDIS,

APPELLANT.



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

D.C.No. 94-2090

Before: Greenberg, Roth, and Rosenn, Circuit Judges.

Rosenn, Circuit Judge.

District Judge: Honorable William L. Standish

Argued March 28, 1996

Filed April 30, l996)

OPINION OF THE COURT

The primary, and in this circuit, novel, issue in this appeal is whether civil forfeiture, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section(s) 981(a)(1)(C), constitutes punishment for double jeopardy purposes, when a court has already sentenced a defendant to imprisonment and the payment of restitution. Paris Francis Lundis pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to one count of unauthorized use and possession of credit cards in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section(s) 1029(a)(2) & (a)(3). In addition to a ten month prison sentence and three years of supervised release, the court ordered Lundis to pay $13,674.50 restitution, the value of several pieces of computer equipment fraudulently obtained by Lundis. Further, the court deemed the equipment to be proceeds of Lundis's crime, and thus forfeitable to the United States pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section(s) 981 (a)(1)(C). The court issued a final order of forfeiture on March 28, 1995.

We conclude that we have jurisdiction and affirm.

I.

On September 21, 1994, Lundis pled guilty to Count I of a four count indictment charging him with unauthorized use and possession of credit cards in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section(s) 1029(a)(2) and (a)(3). Lundis admitted that he stole the cards and used them to illegally purchase computers and computer equipment. The trial court sentenced him to ten months imprisonment, and ordered that he pay $13,674.50 in restitution to the store where he obtained the computers.

At the sentencing hearing, Lundis requested that the court allow him to keep the property in light of the court's requirement that he pay restitution. *fn1 The Government argued that the computers were proceeds of Lundis's crime, and thus were subject to civil forfeiture pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section(s) 981(a)(1)(C). *fn2 The court denied Lundis's request for possession of the property, stating that the computers were forfeitable "as a matter of law." On December 9, 1994, the Government instituted civil forfeiture proceedings in rem against the computers by filing a verified complaint for forfeiture. The Government contends that it personally served a warrant of arrest and complaint for forfeiture against the computers upon Lundis at the Allegheny County Jail on February 1, 1995. Lundis timely filed a claim to the computers and an answer to the Government's complaint, along with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel.

The Government opposed Lundis's request to proceed in forma pauperis and his request for counsel. It also filed a motion to dismiss Lundis's claim. In the motion to dismiss, the Government asserted that Lundis's claim to the computers was defective because it was not verified as required by Supplemental Rule C(6) for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims ("Rule C(6)"). Lundis timely filed a response in opposition to the Government's motion to dismiss, admitting that his claim was neither verified nor properly served, but asserting that the procedural defects were due to his pro se and prison status. The district court dismissed Lundis's claim and entered a Judgment and Final Order of Forfeiture on March 28, 1995, in favor of the United States.

Throughout these proceedings, Lundis filed many documents pro se with the district court, including three "Notices of Appeal." *fn3 Lundis filed motions for leave to appeal in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel with this court, and this court granted the motions. *fn4

II.

The Government raises jurisdictional issues contending that Lundis has not appealed from the final order of forfeiture. We have plenary review over questions of jurisdiction. See Anthuis v. Colt Indus. ...


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