UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. SEVENTEEN THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($17,900.00) IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY
MEMORANDUM OPINION re 17 Claimants' Motion to Dismiss, 27 the Government's Motion to Strike. Signed by Judge Christopher R. Cooper on 8/4/2016. (lccrc2)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 15-cv-00368 (CRC)
SEVENTEEN THOUSAND NINE
HUNDRED DOLLARS ($17,900) IN
UNITED STATES CURRENCY,
This case began with a familiar ethical dilemma: If you stumble upon a bag of money, do
you keep it or turn it in to the police? An Amtrak passenger’s decision to take the more virtuous
path led to the government’s seizure of the bag’s contents—$17,900 in cash—as the alleged
fruits of illegal narcotics trafficking. Two claimants now collectively assert interests in the entire
currency. They have moved to dismiss the government’s civil-forfeiture complaint, contending
that it fails to plead an adequate connection between the $17,900 and the drug trade. The
government subsequently moved to strike both claims in the currency for lack of standing.
Finding that no reasonable jury could believe the claimants’ bizarre explanation for how they
came to own the $17,900, the Court will grant the government’s motion to strike both claims in
Seizure of the $17,900
On March 28, 2014, an Amtrak passenger notified Amtrak police that he had mistakenly
removed a backpack belonging to someone else when he dismounted a train at Union Station in
Washington, D.C. Amtrak police found within the backpack a brown shopping bag containing
$17,900 in U.S. currency. Also inside were “a student notebook, some school papers, multiple
electronic device chargers, a shirt, pants, and a cellular telephone.” Govt.’s Ver. Compl.
(“Compl.”) ¶ 4. After the backpack was placed in a police roll-call room, a trained narcoticsdetection dog alerted to the backpack as a whole.
One of the items in the backpack bore the name “Peter Rodriguez.” After checking the
train’s manifest, a Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) officer called the telephone number
associated with him. Peter, having ridden the train the rest of the way to New York City,
thoroughly described the backpack’s contents but failed to mention the currency. After being
directly asked twice, Peter denied that the backpack contained any money. He maintained this
stance after being informed that a large amount of currency had in fact been found in the
backpack, disclaiming “any knowledge of a brown bag or currency.”1 Id. ¶ 9. Later that day, a
woman named Angela Rodriguez—Peter’s mother, and a New York City resident—contacted
the MPD to recover the full amount of the $17,900, which she insisted belonged to her and her
domestic partner, Joyce Copeland. The MPD nonetheless seized the currency, which remained
in the custody of its Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Summary of Proceedings
Dubious of Ms. Rodriguez’s claim, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”)
initiated an administrative process to effect the currency’s forfeiture to the United States. The
DEA contended that the $17,900 was forfeitable under 21 U.S.C. § 881 because it constituted
“money . . . intended to be furnished by a person in exchange for a controlled substance,
proceeds traceable to such an exchange, or moneys . . . used or intended to be used to facilitate a
For a better-known account of three successive denials by a man named Peter, see John 18:13–
violation of [the Controlled Substances Act,] 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.” Compl. ¶ 19. Ms.
Rodriguez and Ms. Copeland (“Claimants”) filed timely claims of interest in the currency—Ms.
Rodriguez for $8,900, and Ms. Copeland for $9,000.
A criminal-background check revealed that Peter Rodriguez was arrested in New York on
April 23, 2014—less than one month after his Amtrak trip—for criminal sale of a controlled
substance in the third degree. (He was convicted later that year.) He had also been convicted of
a controlled-substance offense in Virginia state court in May 2007. Claimant Joyce Copeland
has been convicted of thirteen such offenses, including New York convictions dating to 1989,
1991, 2000, and 2002. After considering all of the circumstances surrounding the currency’s
seizure and the above convictions, the DEA declined to relinquish the currency to Ms. Rodriguez
and Ms. Copeland; it remains in DEA custody.
The matter arrived in this Court when the United States (here, the Plaintiff) filed its
Verified Complaint for Forfeiture in rem against the $17,900 in U.S. currency (the Defendant) in
March 2015. Both Claimants—and no one else—later filed verified claims in the property, in
the amounts listed above. See ECF Nos. 15–16. As third-party intervenors, they then moved to
dismiss the government’s Complaint, arguing that it failed to allege a theory of forfeitability that
was “more than merely possible or conceivable.” Mem. Supp. Claimants’ Mot. Dismiss 1. This
motion is fully briefed and awaiting decision.
In the midst of briefing on Claimants’ motion to dismiss, the government served a set of
Special Interrogatories on each Claimant in order to elucidate their “identity and relationship to
the defendant property.” Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset
Forfeiture Actions (“Supp. R.”) G(6)(a). Shortly after receiving Claimants’ responses, the
government moved to strike their claims for lack of standing under Supplemental Rule
G(8)(c)(i)(B). In short, the government asserts that Claimants are “true strangers to the events
giving rise to the forfeiture” and have demonstrated no “colorable interest” in the seized
currency. Govt.’s Reply Supp. Mot. Strike 2. Claimants must first demonstrate their standing
before the Court may rule on their motion to dismiss. Supp. R. G(8)(c)(ii)(A). The Court held a
hearing on both motions on July 18, 2016.
Claimants’ Theory of Ownership
Claimants have had two opportunities to substantiate their claims of ownership—in
administrative proceedings before the DEA, and in responding to the government’s special
interrogatories. Each Claimant was asked to “[s]tate in detail the circumstances in which [she]
acquired [her] ownership interest in the Defendant Currency” and to submit any supporting
documentation. Claimant Copeland’s Resp. Special Interrogs. (“Copeland Resp.”), ECF No. 273, at 7, 10; Claimant Rodriguez’s Resp. Special Interrogs. (“Rodriguez Resp.”), ECF No. 27-4, at
7, 10. Their most recent effort was assisted by pro bono counsel from a Washington, D.C. law
firm.2 Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Copeland proffer a convoluted narrative that they insist accounts
for all of the $17,900, with Ms. Rodriguez specifically claiming $8,900 and Ms. Copeland
Claimants allege that they had been planning for some time to move to North Carolina
from New York. In late 2012, they began pooling their money in order to purchase a used car so
that both would be able to drive after they relocated to North Carolina. Because they “wanted to
keep [the money] as cash,” and because Ms. Rodriguez “has no credit card,” Claimants stored all
of the money saved for this purpose in a locked file cabinet in their shared apartment. Rodriguez
The Court thanks Kirkland & Ellis LLP for its able pro bono assistance in this case.
Resp. 17, 19. Ms. Copeland claims to have sold a mink coat for $5,000 in cash in July 2013,
Copeland Resp. 8, and to have withdrawn $4,400 of her federal tax refund from her JPMorgan
Chase account on February 11, 2014, id. at 9. She also asserts that she cashed her January and
February 2014 pay stubs upon receiving them, and has the relevant documentation “in her
custody.” Id. at 10–11; see also Claimants’ Opp’n Govt.’s Mot. Strike (“Claimants’ Opp’n”) 9
(“Ms. Copeland . . . cashed her pay checks upon receipt.”). But her interrogatory responses
contain no information about the nature of her employment or the amount of her earnings. So
Ms. Copeland has specifically accounted for $9,400 in cash to cover her $9,000 claim, leaving a
Ms. Rodriguez offered the following explanation for how she came to possess $8,900 in
U.S. currency: In December 2012, she too sold a mink coat for $5,000 in cash.3 Rodriguez
Resp. 8. She withdrew $800 from her checking account on July 15, 2013, and another $300 on
February 14, 2014. Id. at 8–9. To account for the $2,800 shortfall, she claims to have received
well over that amount in cash from Ms. Copeland in exchange for having paid her bills—even
though Ms. Copeland had a bank account, and even though Ms. Rodriguez “ha[d] no credit
card.”4 Id. at 19. Ms. Rodriguez alleges that Ms. Copeland gave her “at least $1,700” in cash at
some unspecified point between August 2013 and February 2014, id. at 8, and an unspecified
amount of cash less than $2,148.05 at some point between February 10 and February 15, 2014,
when the women left for North Carolina, id. at 9. In all, Ms. Rodriguez claims that Ms.
Neither Claimant furnished the government any documentation reflecting that these
transactions took place.
As mentioned above, Ms. Rodriguez cited her lack of a credit card as one reason why she
“chose to carry cash” rather than deposit her savings in either her checking account or her
money-market account. Id. at 19.
Copeland gave her “at least $9,000 . . . to put towards their cash savings.” Id. The government
argues that because Ms. Copeland substantiated her possession of only $400 in cash above the
$9,000 she claims, Claimants’ interrogatory responses—which rest in part on substantial cash
transfers between Ms. Copeland and Ms. Rodriguez—“leave a deficit of at least $2,400 in cash
unaccounted for.” Govt.’s Reply Supp. Mot. Strike 6.
In any event, on January 14, 2014, Ms. Rodriguez underwent a pre-operation evaluation
for a surgery scheduled to occur “sometime in March 2014.” Rodriguez’s Resp. 19. Claimants
say they left New York City for North Carolina on February 15, 2014, intending to purchase a
used car and search for housing. They brought all of their cash savings that had been earmarked
for the move—“more than $17,900,” some of which was spent during the trip. Id. They drove
the entire distance without stopping overnight and stayed with Ms. Rodriguez’s son Peter in
Charlotte for the duration of their visit. Claimants visited several open houses while in North
Carolina, but they did not establish ties, or maintain documentation of contacts, with any realtors.
They paid all expenses in cash; no record of any sort exists to confirm that Claimants traveled to
North Carolina in February 2014.
Ms. Rodriguez called her doctor’s office on February 26, 2014 to learn the date of her
scheduled surgical procedure. After receiving an answer, Claimants insist that they immediately
drove back to New York City (again, without stopping overnight). Ms. Rodriguez left a brown
shopping bag containing $17,900 in Peter’s apartment—specifically, in his backpack5—because
The government’s Verified Complaint alleges that “[i]n subsequent communications with the
Government, Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Copeland stated that they . . . left the $17,900 in Mr.
Rodriguez’s backpack without his knowledge.” Compl. ¶ 6. This assertion is not hearsay
because it constitutes an opposing-party statement under Rule 801(d)(2) of the Federal Rules of
Evidence. The Court may therefore consider it at the summary-judgment stage.
“she intended to return to North Carolina within a short period of time to continue the search for
housing and a car.” Id. at 18. She claims not to have told Peter about the money because she
“believed Peter might have taken some of it had he known it was in the bag.” Copeland Resp.
14. On their return trip, Claimants again paid for food and gas using cash, and again kept no
receipts. Ms. Rodriguez underwent surgery after returning to New York, rendering her unable to
return for the currency soon afterwards. When Peter informed his mother that he would visit her
in New York, she asked him to bring the bag she had left behind “but did not tell him that it
contained currency.” Compl. ¶ 4. It was on Peter’s March 28 Amtrak journey from North
Carolina to New York that a fellow passenger mistakenly removed his backpack, leading to the
seizure of the Defendant currency.
A. Summary Judgment
Before trial in any forfeiture action brought in rem under a federal statute, the
government “may move to strike a claim . . . because the claimant lacks standing.” Supp. R.
G(8)(c)(i)(B). Such a challenge “may be presented . . . as a motion to determine after hearing or
by summary judgment whether the claimant can carry the burden of establishing standing by a
preponderance of the evidence.” Id. G(8)(c)(ii)(B). The Court will apply the summary-judgment
standard in this case. Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(a). A dispute is “genuine” only if a reasonable factfinder could find for the nonmoving party; a fact is “material” only if it is capable of affecting the outcome of the litigation.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Laningham v. U.S. Dep’t of Navy,
813 F.2d 1236, 1241 (D.C. Cir. 1987).
To overcome a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must “designate
‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.’” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 324 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). A party alleging facts that it claims cannot be
genuinely disputed “must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the
record,” including depositions, affidavits, and interrogatory responses. Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(1)(A). The D.C. Circuit has specifically held that a verified complaint must be treated as
an affidavit for purposes of deciding a motion for summary judgment. Neal v. Kelly, 963 F.2d
453, 457 (D.C. Cir. 1992). In short, the non-moving party must “provide evidence that would
permit a reasonable jury to find in [its] favor”; “mere unsupported allegations or denials” will not
do. United States v. All Assets Held at Bank Julius Baer & Co., 959 F. Supp. 2d 81, 94 (D.D.C.
In deciding a motion for summary judgment, courts must generally “view the facts and
draw reasonable inferences ‘in the light most favorable to the [non-moving] party.’” Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655
(1962) (per curiam)). This posture also requires that courts “eschew making credibility
determinations or weighing the evidence.” Czekalski v. Peters, 475 F.3d 360, 363 (D.C. Cir.
2007). But when “no reasonable jury could believe” a party’s factual allegations (for example, if
they are “utterly discredited by the record”), a court “should not adopt that version of the facts
for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott, 550 U.S at 380; see also
United States v. $8,440,190.00 in U.S. Currency, 719 F.3d 49, 59 (1st Cir. 2013) (refusing to
credit a factual assertion—even one in a claimant’s affidavit—that was “contradicted by
common sense”); Morton v. Kirkwood, 707 F.3d 1276, 1284 (11th Cir. 2013) (explaining that at
the summary-judgment stage, courts may disregard “inherently incredible” factual allegations)
(internal quotation marks omitted); Lombardo v. Alhambra Police Dep’t, No. Civ. 15-6262-JLS
(AFM), 2015 WL 9906167, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 15, 2015) (same, when factual allegations are
“so implausible as to defy reality”).
B. General Standing Principles in Civil-Forfeiture Cases
When the government moves to strike a third party’s claim to the defendant property for
lack of standing, it is the claimant’s burden to “establish standing by a preponderance of the
evidence.” Rule G(8)(c)(ii)(B). A claimant must demonstrate both constitutional and statutory
standing in order to prevail. United States v. Sum of $70,990,605, 305 F.R.D. 20, 23 (D.D.C.
A claimant enjoys constitutional standing if she “has a sufficient interest in the property
to satisfy the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III of the Constitution.” Id. (quoting
Stefan D. Cassella, Asset Forfeiture in the United States: A Treatise on Forfeiture Law § 9–4, at
326 (2006)). This requirement is satisfied by demonstrating “a colorable interest in the property,
for example, by showing actual possession, control, title, or financial stake.” United States v.
Sum of $309,500,000, 85 F. Supp. 3d 111, 116 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting United States v. Real
Property Located at 475 Martin Lane, 545 F.3d 1134, 1140 (9th Cir. 2008)). It is widely
accepted that “an owner of property seized in a forfeiture action will normally have standing to
challenge the forfeiture.” United States v. Any and All Funds on Deposit in Account Number
XXXXX-XXXXXXXX, 87 F. Supp. 3d 163, 166 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting United States v.
Cambio Exacto, S.A., 166 F.3d 522, 527 (2d Cir. 1999)). At the motion-to-strike stage, courts
must not resolve whether a claimant’s ownership is “legitimate”—unconnected with illegal
activity—which would conflate the Article III inquiry with the later merits determination of
forefeitability. United States v. Funds in the Amount of $239,400, 395 F.3d 639, 646 (7th Cir.
“To establish statutory standing in a forfeiture case,” a claimant need only “comply with
the procedural requirements set forth” in relevant statutes and rules. United States v.
$487,825.00 in U.S. Currency, 484 F.3d 662, 664 (3d Cir. 2007). Anyone seeking to assert an
interest in the defendant property “may contest the forfeiture by filing a claim in the court where
the action is pending.” Rule G(5)(a)(i). Most notably, such a claim must “identify the specific
property claimed,” “identify the claimant and state the claimant’s interest in the property,” and
“be signed by the claimant under penalty of perjury.” Id. 5(a)(i)(A)–(C). “[W]hether [a
claimant] is an ‘owner’ is not germane to the issue of whether it has statutory standing to contest
the forfeiture,” United States v. Assets Described in “Attachment A” to the Ver. Compl. of
Forfeiture in Rem, 799 F. Supp. 2d 1319, 1323 (M.D. Fla. 2011), for even a “bald assertion of
interest” would comply with the relevant requirement of Rule G(5), $239,400, 795 F.3d at 644
(quoting United States v. $196,969 in U.S. Currency, 719 F.3d 644, 646 (7th Cir. 2013)). The
government does not dispute that Claimants’ Verified Claims of October 5, 2015, see ECF Nos.
15–16, satisfy all relevant procedural requirements. Their statutory standing is therefore taken as
established for purposes of the motion to strike.6
Constitutional standing serves a “truly threshold” purpose in civil-forfeiture actions. All
Assets Held, 959 F. Supp. 2d at 96 (quoting United States v. $557,933.89, More or Less, in U.S.
Funds, 287 F.3d 66, 79 (2d Cir. 2002)). This initial burden is “not rigorous,” id. at 95 (quoting
The government maintains that establishing statutory standing here would require Plaintiffs to
demonstrate actual ownership of the currency. Govt.’s Mot. Strike 6. The Court rejects this
view as conceptually unsound and needlessly duplicative of constitutional-standing principles.
The procedural requirements identified above are the only pertinent “statutory requirements
Congress has imposed for contesting a civil forfeiture action in federal court.” Disner v. United
States, 888 F. Supp. 2d 83, 86 (D.D.C. 2012).
United States v. One Lincoln Navigator, 328 F.3d 1011, 1013 (8th Cir. 2003)), and “typically
any colorable claim on the defendant property suffices,” id. at 96 (quoting $8,440,190.00 in U.S.
Currency, 719 F.3d at 57); see also Any and All Funds, 87 F. Supp. 3d at 167 (“[T]he bar to
establish standing at the initial stages of a civil forfeiture proceeding is low.”).
Yet even though the constitutional-standing requirement is quite forgiving, “a claimant
must do more than merely assert . . . an [ownership] interest” in the defendant property. United
States v. All Assets Held at Bank Julius Baer & Co., 664 F. Supp. 2d at 97, 103 (D.D.C. 2009).
It is “common ground” that a claimant must “submit some additional evidence of ownership
along with his claim.” All Assets Held, 959 F. Supp. 2d at 100 (quoting United States v. $38,570
in U.S. Currency, 950 F.2d 1108, 1112–13 (5th Cir. 1992)). Summary judgment should be
denied only where there is “contradictory evidence”—not just inconsistent assertions in the nonmovant’s pleadings—bearing on an issue of material fact. Id. at 104 (quoting United States v.
1998 BMW “I” Convertible, 235 F.3d 397, 400 (8th Cir. 2000)) (emphasis added). And despite
the general prohibition on ascertaining credibility at the summary-judgment stage, a claimant’s
self-serving statements—even if contained in an affidavit or interrogatory response—need not be
credited if they “def[y] common sense.” $8,440,190.00 in U.S. Currency, 719 F.3d at 59.
For starters, a reasonable jury could conclude from Claimants’ interrogatory responses
that by February 2014, they came to own enough money—potentially convertible into cash—to
cover the full amount of the seized currency. The Court also gives Claimants the benefit of the
doubt in accounting for the final $2,400 of the Defendant currency, as far as their narrative goes.
Asked to substantiate each component of her claim,7 Ms. Copeland insisted that she cashed her
January and February 2014 paychecks as soon as she received them. Copeland Resp. 11. The
Court is perplexed by her failure to ascribe dollar amounts to these two pay stubs, given the clear
need for a particularized accounting of all cash-receipt events, Claimants’ effort to provide one
in several other respects, and the fact that the pay stubs were “in [Ms. Copeland’s] custody”
when she completed her interrogatory responses. Id. at 10. The exact size of the remaining
shortfall, moreover, is somewhat obscure. Ms. Copeland would have needed to earn, net of
taxes, at least $2,400 in those two months, plus enough money to cover food, gas, and incidentals
during Claimants’ cash-only February 15–26 road trip. The Court nevertheless finds that a
reasonable jury could conclude that two New York City paychecks—whose existence the
government has not contested—would be large enough to cover any remaining deficit. The
Court also rejects the government’s argument that Claimants lack standing because they have not
proved a valid bailment agreement with Peter Rodriguez. See Govt.’s Mot. Strike 14–16. That
is certainly not their theory of standing; they simply argue that the property was always theirs,
having never been abandoned, and they asked someone to perform an act that would result in
their being reunited with it.
Claimants’ larger problem is that their labyrinthine chronology simply defies common
sense. It goes without saying that the co-occurrence of several exceedingly unlikely events is
The full text of the Government’s Special Interrogatory No. 5 is as follows: “State in detail the
circumstances in which you acquired your ownership interest in the Defendant Currency,
including but not limited to, the following: 1) the date(s), time(s), and place(s) in which you
acquired the currency; 2) the reason(s) you acquired the currency; 3) the manner in which the
currency was delivered to your possession; 4) the identity of the person(s) from whom you
acquired the currency; and 5) the identity of all persons who were present when you obtained the
currency.” Id. at 7–8.
even more improbable than any one of those events occurring on its own. With this truism in
mind, the Court finds that no reasonable jury could credit Claimants’ proffered basis for their
alleged ownership of the Defendant currency. In so doing, the Court makes no findings as to
either Claimant’s credibility; it instead holds that their composite story exceeds the bounds of
For example, Claimants allegedly stored thousands of dollars in cash for months on end
despite having access to interest-bearing Citibank and JPMorgan Chase accounts.8 Copeland
Resp. 9. Asked why she did not keep this money in the bank, Ms. Rodriguez answered that “she
wanted to keep it as cash” and “intended to use cash” to purchase a used car. Rodriguez Resp.
17, 19. Claimants’ purported bill-paying arrangement is even more improbable. Ms. Rodriguez
is alleged to have paid Ms. Copeland’s bills in return for equivalent and immediate cash
payments from Ms. Copeland. See id. at 8–9 (claiming that Ms. Rodriguez received an advance
tax refund, paid bills for Ms. Copeland, and was reimbursed all in the span of—at most—four
days). This is so even though Ms. Copeland had an active JPMorgan Chase account, Copeland
Resp. 9, and Ms. Rodriguez “ha[d] no credit card,” Rodriguez Resp. 19. The Court has been
given no reason to believe that Ms. Copeland was logistically unequipped to pay her bills
directly, and it can fathom no other reason for such an arrangement. Claimants provided no
remotely plausible context for this practice when asked to “[s]tate in detail . . . the reason(s)
[they] acquired the currency.” Rodriguez Resp. 7. Nor have they explained—despite multiple
The Court is mindful of Claimants’ observation that some lower-income Americans maintain
cash because they are effectively shut out of the traditional banking system. At the time of the
relevant events, however, both women maintained bank accounts, at least Ms. Copeland was
gainfully employed, and both were wealthy enough to have purchased mink coats that they claim
to have re-sold for $5,000 each.
opportunities to do so—why they allegedly paid for twelve days’ worth of food, gas, and
incidentals using cash alone (with no receipts to show for it). Claimants would have the Court
believe that just before returning to New York, they removed some of the brown bag’s contents
specifically to enable them to cover remaining expenses using cash alone. But why? When one
has ready access to banking, buying gas with cash is unnecessarily cumbersome. And they had
long been accumulating this very currency for a mission that remained unfulfilled.
Lastly, and most decisively, the Court rejects as outlandish that Claimants would have
left a bag containing $17,900 in Peter’s backpack—or anywhere else in his apartment—rather
than keep it in their protective custody until it could be spent as intended. Under Claimants’
telling, they had already demonstrated a desire to keep close tabs on the currency for as long as
necessary and a willingness to drive long distances with it. They also “believed Peter might have
taken some of it had he known it was in the bag.” Copeland Resp. 14. Given that Peter was
bound to notice the bag at some point, it is simply unbelievable that Claimants would have
chosen to leave it with him rather than personally safeguard its contents. That they “intended to
return to North Carolina within a short period of time,” Rodriguez Resp. 18, makes no
difference. People do not leave their front doors unlocked just because their prized heirlooms
will be defenseless for only a few hours.
No further discovery is necessary to resolve the issue of Claimants’ standing. Each was
given ample opportunity to explain her relationship to the $17,900. Because no reasonable jury
could conclude that they owned the Defendant currency, the Court will grant the government’s
motion to strike and, accordingly, deny as moot Claimants’ motion to dismiss. A separate Order
accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER
United States District Judge
August 4, 2016
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