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United States v. Various Money Orders

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


November 16, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VARIOUS MONEY ORDERS, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cathy Bissoon U.S. Magistrate Judge

Judge Nora Barry Fischer

Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. MEMORANDUM

Pending before the Court is Claimant Rick Chaidez's Motion to Change Venue (Doc. 15) to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Because Chaidez has not provided any explanation for why venue is proper in the Central District of California, the Court will deny Chaidez's motion.*fn1

Transfer of a case is proper "to any other district or division where it might have been brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). It does not appear that this action could have been brought anywhere other than in the Western District of Pennsylvania. This is a civil action for forfeiture of property. Venue for such an action is proper in:

(1) "the district in which any of the acts or omissions giving rise to the forfeiture occurred," 28 U.S.C. § 1355;

(2) the district where the forfeiture "accrues" or "the defendant is found," 28 U.S.C. § 1395(a); or

(3) the district where the "property is found," 28 U.S.C. § 1395(b).

According to the United States, the "defendant" money orders in this action are allegedly subject to forfeiture because (a) they are traceable to an illegal drug transaction; and/or (b) they are involved in a violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5324, related to evasion of Treasury Department reporting requirements for certain financial transactions. See Compl. (Doc. 1). The money orders were seized in and remain in the Western District of Pennsylvania. See Pl.'s Response to Motion to Change Venue ¶ 5. Under these circumstances, venue is proper in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Chaidez has not provided any explanation for why venue would be proper in any other district, including the Central District of California. He has not asserted that any "acts or omissions giving rise to the forfeiture occurred" in the Central District of California. 28 U.S.C. § 1355. He has not asserted that the forfeiture "accrued" in, or that the defendant money orders are found in, the Central District of California. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1395(a), 1395(b). Chaidez only asserts that he has experienced "major financial hardship" and cannot afford to travel to Pennsylvania. While this Court acknowledges the burden on Chaidez, this Court cannot transfer an action to a venue where it could not have been brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

II. ORDER

For the reasons stated above, the Court hereby ORDERS that Claimant Rick Chaidez's Motion to Change Venue (Doc. 15) is DENIED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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