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United States v. $19

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 20, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$19, 952.00 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY, $26, 000.00 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY Defendants, KURT FLODINE, Claimant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is a Motion to Strike Claim filed by the Government (ECF 8) in this forfeiture action. The Claimant had until July 12, 2017 to respond to the Motion to Strike. See Court order filed at ECF 10. Claimant, Kurt Flodine, did not respond.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion to Strike.

         I. Background

         The United States Government filed a Complaint for Forfeiture pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 881(a)(6). In its Complaint, the Government seeks forfeiture of $19, 952.00 USD and $26, 000.00 USD. The first amount ($19, 952.00) was seized by law enforcement officials when they were called to the apartment of an unconscious male on July 25, 2016. The unconscious male, Kyle Flodine, was found deceased in the apartment, but when the officers were in the apartment, they observed marijuana plants, baggies, electronic scales, and other drug paraphernalia in plain view. The officers then obtained a search warrant for the apartment, and upon its execution, they recovered “significant amounts of material used to process, weigh, package, and brand heroin for illegal distribution.” ECF 1, ¶ 6. The officers also recovered and seized $19, 952.00 in United States currency from the apartment.

         On October 27, 2016, law enforcement officers went to the home of Eileen Flodine, Kyle Flodine's grandmother, to investigate the death of Kyle. Eileen Flodine resided with her three adult sons, one of which, Kurt Flodine (“Kurt”), is the father of Kyle. Kurt granted permission to the officers to search his bedroom in the home, and during this search the officers recovered “26 bundles of currency wrapped in black rubber bands, later determined to total $26, 000.00.” Id. at ¶ 13.

         With respect to both amounts of money, the smell of marijuana was present on the currency, law enforcement conducted canine scans of the seized currency, and the drug dogs alerted to the presence of a controlled substance.

         In addition, Kurt admitted to law enforcement officials that he and his son, Kyle, would often exchange money and he “acknowledged that the $26, 000.00 in United States currency may contain illegal drug proceeds.” Id. at ¶ 17. Kurt also acknowledged that Kyle had previously stored $12, 000.00 in United States currency at Eileen's home. Id. at ¶ 18.

         Based on these facts, the Government filed its Complaint for Forfeiture (ECF 1) and contends that these proceeds (the $19, 952.00 and the $26, 000.00) constitute moneys furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance and/or moneys used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

         In response to the Complaint, Kurt filed a claim for the proceeds (ECF 5) and an Answer to the Complaint (ECF 6), wherein he claimed that he was entitled to the $19, 952.00 and the $26, 000.00. In support of his claim, Kurt argued that he was entitled to recover the $19, 952.00 amount, because this amount was found in his son's apartment and he is the executor of his son's estate. Kurt's claim further contends he is entitled to recover the $26, 000.00 amount because it is his own property. Kurt also filed an Answer to the Complaint for Forfeiture. ECF 6.

         The Government filed a Motion to Strike Claim (ECF 8), and in its Brief in Support of its Motion claimed that Kurt lacks standing to file a claim for the currency at issue. ECF 9.

         II. Standard of Review

         To establish statutory standing in a forfeiture action, a potential claimant must comply with both the statutory and procedural requirements delineated in 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(4)(A) and the corresponding Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture ...


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