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United States v. Approximately $13

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

September 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
APPROXIMATELY $13, 205.54 IN U.S. CURRENCY SEIZED FROM RAHKIM FRANKLIN ON AUGUST 21, 2018 IN RUTHERFORD COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          Martin Reidinger, United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Claimants’ Motion to Strike Certain Paragraphs of First Amended Complaint. [Doc. 23].

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the Amended Complaint, on August 21, 2018, an officer with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office stopped Rahkim Franklin (“Franklin”) and searched his vehicle. [Doc. 17 at ¶¶ 8-12]. During the search, the officer discovered a concealed firearm, marijuana shake, and $13, 205.54 (the “Defendant Currency”). [Id. at ¶13-15]. The officer arrested Franklin for possession of a concealed firearm and seized the Defendant Currency. [Id. at ¶ 19-20]. While the arrest was occurring, Shelly Medrano (“Medrano”) arrived at the scene and claimed that the Defendant Currency is hers. [Id. at ¶ 16].

         The Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) initiated an administrative forfeiture action following the seizure of the Defendant Currency. [Id. at ¶ 25]. On January 7, 2019, the Government filed its original Complaint alleging that the Defendant Currency is subject to forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6). [Doc. 1].

         On February 7, 2019, Franklin and Medrano (collectively “Claimants”) filed a Verified “Joint Claim of Ownership, ” asserting that the Defendant Currency belongs to both of them “and is money they obtained through employment and personal savings.” [Doc. 5]. On February 21, 2019, Claimants filed an Answer to the Government’s Complaint, which included a motion to strike certain paragraphs of the Complaint. [Doc. 7].

         On May 21, 2019, the Claimants filed a motion pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to strike paragraphs 21(a), 21(b), 22, 23, and 24 of the Government’s Complaint as immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous. [Docs. 15, 16]. In response to the Claimant’s motion, on June 3, 2019, the Government filed an Amended Complaint that corrected certain errors and revised certain paragraphs that were in the original Complaint. [Doc. 17]. The Court denied the Claimants’ motion to strike as moot on June 4, 2019. [Text-only Order entered June 4, 2019].

         On June 19, 2019, the Claimants filed their Answer to the Amended Complaint, which included a motion to strike certain paragraphs of the Amended Complaint. [Doc. 19]. On August 12, 2019, the Claimants again filed a motion pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to strike paragraphs 21(a), 21(b), 22, 23, and 24 of the Government’s Complaint as immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous. [Docs. 23, 24].

         Those paragraphs read as follows:

         21. Franklin has been implicated in numerous reports and incidents, including but not limited to incidents involving narcotics. Reports and incidents include the following:

a. On February 4, 2015, law enforcement visited the residence at 121 Hill Street Forest City, North Carolina, in order to arrest Iykiemie Franklin, Rakhim [sic] Franklin’s brother, on an outstanding warrant for Simple Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance in violation of North Carolina General Statute § 90-95 (d)(2). Although Iykiemie Franklin was not at the residence, law enforcement did locate Rakhim [sic] Franklin and one other individual exiting a laundry room from which an overwhelming smell of marijuana was emanating. One of the individuals advised that the two had just smoked marijuana. Although Franklin and the individual declined consent to search the room, the owner of the residence consented to a search whereby law enforcement ultimately found two large bags of marijuana in the laundry room.
b. In January 2017, a concerned parent delivered a backpack that contained three vacuum sealed bags of marijuana to the Forest City Police Department. The parent advised that the parent had found the backpack while cleaning the child’s room in the parent’s house. The parent relayed the parent’s suspicion that Franklin and his family kept the child high on marijuana and paid small amounts of money to the child so that the child would work for Franklin. The total amount of marijuana in the bags was 470 grams in the first bag, 469 grams in the second bag, and 484 grams in the third bag.

         22. Although Franklin purportedly operates a detailing business, law enforcement has not identified any information to suggest that Franklin serves customers or generates revenue, much less substantial revenue sufficient to justify his possession of a large amount of currency, via this business, nor has law enforcement identified customers at the purported business location.

         23. Franklin has previously been charged in North Carolina with, among other things, Felony Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.C. G.S. § 90-95(d)(2); Simple Possession of Marijuana in violation of N.C. G.S. § 90-95(d)(4); and ...


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