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United States v. $353

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

December 22, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$353, 443.00 in U.S. Currency, $315, 221.00 in U.S. Currency, $6, 059.00 in U.S. Currency, $184, 766.60 in funds seized from account # *****7281 at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., $25, 432.58 in funds seized from account # *****6328 at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., $9, 652.51 in funds seized from account # *****8048 at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., $1, 696.16 in funds seized from account # *****8762 at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and 2008 CADILLAC ESCALADE VIN # 1GYFK66848R211062, Defendants, SHAFT JONES and LATONIA JONES, Claimants.

          Claimant Shaft Jones, pro se

          Claimant Latonia Jones, pro se.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a Defendant [sic] Jones Motion to Dismiss or Strike, and for Summary Judgment [DE 49], filed on April 27, 2016, by Claimant Shaft Jones; a Defendant [sic] Jones Motion to Dismiss or Strike, and for Summary Judgment [DE 53], filed on May 4, 2016, by Claimant Latonia Jones; and a Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 59], filed on June 20, 2016, by Plaintiff the United States of America. Claimants Shaft Jones and Latonia Jones are both proceeding pro se.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 20, 2012, the United States of America filed a Verified Complaint in Rem against the defendant property. On June 5, 2012, Shaft Jones filed an Answer to Complaint in Rem.

         On July 10, 2012, this litigation was stayed until the completion of the Government's related criminal case against Shaft Jones (Northern District of Indiana cause number 1:11-cr-78).

         On January 20, 2015, Latonia Jones filed an Answer to Verified Complaint in Rem.

         On November 4, 2015, the Court lifted the stay of this litigation.

         On April 27, 2016, Shaft Jones filed a Defendant Jones Motion to Dismiss or Strike, and for Summary Judgment and filed a memorandum in support. On May 4, 2016, Latonia Jones filed a Defendant Jones Motion to Dismiss or Strike, and for Summary Judgment and filed a memorandum in support. On June 20, 2016, the Government filed a consolidated response to both of these motions. On June 29, 2016, Shaft Jones filed a supplement to his motion.[1] On July 11, 2016, Shaft Jones filed a document that the Court, in an Order dated August 24, 2016, construed as Shaft Jones's omnibus reply in support of his summary judgment motion and response to the Government's motion identified below. Latonia Jones did not file a reply in support of her motion, and the time in which to do so has expired.

         Because Claimants asserted in their Motions for Summary Judgment that they had not received “proofread” copies of the Complaint, the Court, on August 24, 2016, directed the Clerk of Court to send each Claimant a copy of the Complaint.

         On June 20, 2016, the Government filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. On July 11, 2016, Shaft Jones filed a document, which the Court, in an Order dated August 24, 2016, construed as Shaft Jones's omnibus response to the Government's motion and reply to his own motion as identified above. The Government filed a reply in support of its summary judgment motion on September 13, 2016.

         The parties orally agreed on the record to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         MATERIAL FACTS[2]

         On December 7, 2011, Mr. Jones was arrested following his attempt to purchase 15 kilograms of cocaine from a confidential source working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Mr. Jones was charged with and ultimately convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, attempt to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

         Mr. Jones drove to the location where the drug purchase was to take place in the defendant 2008 Cadillac Escalade (VIN # 1GYFK66848R211062). A search of the Escalade revealed $353, 443.00 in U.S. currency, a firearm, ammunition, and firearm accessories. A pat-down search of Mr. Jones at the time of his arrest revealed a loaded handgun and additional ammunition for the handgun. The U.S. currency and vehicle were seized and are defendants in the instant litigation.

         A search of Mr. Jones's residence revealed additional items, including $315, 221.00 in U.S. Currency, $6, 059.00 in U.S. Currency, firearms, ammunition, stun guns, night vision device headgear, digital scales, and a money counter. The two amounts of U.S. currency have been seized and are defendants in the instant litigation.

         On December 11, 2011, pursuant to a federal seizure warrant, the DEA seized the defendant bank account funds at Wells Fargo Bank, and these funds are defendants in the instant litigation.

         Mr. Jones stated to a confidential source working with the FBI that he had previously purchased 90 kilograms of cocaine and that he had been selling cocaine for a long time.

         Shaft Entertainment, Inc. was incorporated on April 14, 2010. Claimants contend that Mr. Jones earned the defendant currency and funds through Shaft Entertainment, Inc.

         Shaft Entertainment, Inc. did not file any federal tax returns for tax periods ending March 31, 2006, through December 31, 2010.

         Mr. Jones filed tax returns for 2006 through 2011 reporting the following adjusted gross income:

2006: $9, 666
2007: $15, 668
2008: $11, 500
2009: $12, 989
2010: $14, ...

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