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United States v. $154

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 4, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
$154,853.00 in U.S. Currency, More or Less, Defendant, Chaim Marcus, Claimant - Appellant

Submitted December 18, 2013

Page 560

Appeal from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Des Moines.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Maureen McGuire, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Des Moines, IA.

For Chaim Marcus, Claimant - Appellant: Nicholas A. Sarcone, Dean Alan Stowers, STOWERS & SARCONE, West Des Moines, IA.

Before BYE, BRIGHT, and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 561

BYE, Circuit Judge.

Chaim Marcus seeks the return of $154,853.00 in U.S. currency seized during a traffic stop. Marcus appeals the district court's grant of the government's motion to strike his verified claim and amended verified claim, its order forfeiting the currency, and its denial of his motion for summary judgment. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

I

On April 4, 2012, while driving a car with Pennsylvania plates traveling westbound on Interstate 80 in Iowa, Marcus was stopped by an Iowa state trooper for speeding. During the stop, Marcus appeared nervous and was shaking and sweating. The trooper asked Marcus if he had any drugs or large amounts of currency inside the car. The trooper asked Marcus for permission to search the vehicle, but Marcus declined to give his consent. The trooper then deployed his drug dog, who positively indicated to the odor of narcotics in the car.

During a search of the car, the trooper found a black duffle bag in the trunk. When asked what was inside the bag, Marcus stated, " I don't know." The bag had an overwhelming odor of marijuana and inside was marijuana shake as well as a large sum of U.S. currency in heat-sealed packages and a cell phone tracking device. When asked if he knew how much money was in the bag, Marcus stated he had never counted it and said someone had given him the money. The bag contained a total of $154,853.00.

When exiting the trooper's car, a pill fell out of Marcus's front pants pocket. The trooper believed it to be an amphetamine pill. Marcus was arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of a Schedule II drug without a prescription. The charges were later dismissed.

Following his arrest, Marcus signed a Disclaimer of Ownership of Assets and Waiver of Rights to Notice of Seizure form stating he was not the owner of the $154,853 found in the bag and had no claim for its return, that the owner of the money was unknown, and that it had been given to him by another person.

On August 9, 2012, the government filed a Verified Complaint in rem alleging the currency seized was subject to forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6). On August 31, 2012, Marcus filed a Verified Claim to the currency, which stated simply, " Claimant, Chaim Marcus, hereby claims the seized U.S. Currency in the amount of $154,853, more or less. Claimant has an ownership and possessory interest in the seized U.S. currency." On September 19, 2012, Marcus filed an Answer to the Verified Complaint in rem.

On September 21, 2012, the government submitted special interrogatories provided for by Rule G(6) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims ...


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