United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
REIDINGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on the Defendant's Verified
Motion for the Return of Seized or Stolen Money and Property.
October 17, 2016, the Defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy
to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. [Doc.
93]. The Defendant entered into a plea agreement containing
various waivers and stipulations, including that
“[w]ith regard to each and every asset listed in the
Bill of Indictment or seized in a related investigation or
administrative, state, or local action the defendant
stipulates and agrees” to “its forfeiture . . .
in a separate administrative proceeding.” [Doc. 89 at
September 16, 2019, the Defendant, proceeding pro se, filed a
Verified Motion for the Return of Seized or Stolen Money and
Property. [Doc. 174]. The Defendant requests the return of
the following items that he claims were seized from him
during his arrest on March 1, 2016: (1) $16, 009 in U.S.
Currency that was found inside a laptop computer bag in the
vehicle; (2) $2, 100 in U.S. Currency that was found in the
Defendant's pockets; (3) two iPhones; and (4) a Patagonia
jacket. [Doc. 176 at 1-2]. On September 26, 2019, the
Government filed its Response in Opposition to
Defendant's Verified Motion for the Return of Seized or
Stolen Money and Property. [Doc. 176]. The Government claims
that it only has possession of the $16, 009 and the $2, 100.
[Id. at 9-10].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Defendant does not cite any legal authority in his motion,
but the Court is obligated to construe a pro se complaint
liberally, “however inartfully pleaded[.]”
Booker v. S.C. Dep't of Corr., 855 F.3d 533, 540
(4th Cir. 2017) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). As such, the Court construes the
Defendant's motion as one pursuant to Rule 41(g) of the
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
41 may be utilized to commence a civil equitable proceeding
to recover seized property that the government has retained
after the end of a criminal case.” United States v.
Soza, 599 Fed.Appx. 69, 70 (4th Cir. 2015) (citation and
quotation omitted omitted). A motion under Rule 41 “is
proper only if the property is in the possession of the
United States.” Id. Such a motion “is
properly denied if the defendant is not entitled to lawful
possession of the seized property, the property is contraband
or subject to forfeiture or the government's need for the
property as evidence continues” or if the
“consented to [the property's] forfeiture through
his plea agreement.” Id. (citation omitted).
009 in U.S. Currency
Defendant argues that there “was no forfeiture of any
of the aforementioned items of property[, ]” including
the $16, 009 in U.S. Currency. [Doc. 174 at 1]. A motion for
return of property, however, will be denied if the Defendant
consented to the forfeiture of the property. Soza, 599
Fed.Appx. at 70.
plea agreement, the Defendant consented to forfeiture of
“each and every asset listed in the Bill of
Indictment.” [Doc. 89 at 3]. The Bill of Indictment
listed the $16, 009 in U.S. Currency as “subject to
forfeiture.” [Doc. 14 at 6-7]. Accordingly, the
Defendant's motion will be denied with regard to the $16,
009 in U.S. Currency because he consented to its forfeiture.
See Soza, 599 Fed.Appx. at 70.
100 in U.S. Currency
Defendant argues that [t]he government has no entitlement to
permanent detention of Defendant's property, ”
including the $2, 100 in U.S. Currency seized ...