United States of America v. Real Property 10338 Marcy Road Northwest, Canal Winchester, Ohio
ORDER granting 27 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge George C. Smith on 5/27/15. (lvw)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 2:13-cv-1048
Magistrate Judge Deavers
10338 MARCY ROAD NORTHWEST,
CANAL WINCHESTER, OHIO 43110
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff United States of America’s Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 27). Claimant Levi Winston filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. 29)
to which Plaintiff has replied (Doc. 31). Accordingly, the issues before the Court are fully
briefed and ripe for review. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff’s motion is GRANTED.
This case is an in rem forfeiture proceeding against the Defendant Real Property known
as 10338 Marcy Road Northwest, Canal Winchester, Ohio 43110 (“Marcy Road property”).
Claimant Levi Winston (“Winston”) purchased the Marcy Road property from an acquaintance,
Robin Adams, in November 2012.1 (Doc. 27, Ex. A, Marvich Decl. at ¶¶ 12-13). Plaintiff
asserts this property was purchased with proceeds derived from Winston’s large-scale drug
trafficking operation. In response, Winston does not refute that he was involved in a significant
drug enterprise at the time the property was purchased, but argues that the Marcy Road property
The Court notes that although Winston paid for the property in full, the 10338 Marcy Road property is still deeded
in Adams’ name. As the owner of record, Adams was issued a Summons for the case at bar on October 25, 2013.
(Doc. 2). Adams did not respond and an Entry of Default was entered on January 21, 2014. (Doc. 13).
was purchased with legitimate funds. He also opposes Plaintiff’s motion on evidentiary grounds,
asking the Court to exclude the sworn testimony of Special Agent Ryan Marvich because of the
inadmissible and prejudicial “hearsay” contained therein.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The standard governing summary judgment is set forth in Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, which provides that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment 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).
Summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is genuine; “that is, if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate,
however, if the nonmoving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of
an element essential to that party’s case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial. See Muncie Power Prods., Inc. v. United Techs. Auto., Inc., 328 F.3d 870, 873 (6th Cir.
2003) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)); see also Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986).
When reviewing a summary judgment motion, the Court must view all the facts, evidence
and any inferences that may permissibly be drawn from the facts, in favor of the nonmoving
party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. The Court will ultimately determine whether “the evidence
presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided
that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-53. Moreover,
the purpose of the procedure is not to resolve factual issues, but to determine if there are genuine
issues of fact to be tried. Lashlee v. Sumner, 570 F.2d 107, 111 (6th Cir. 1978). The Court’s
duty is to determine only whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of
fact a proper question for the jury; it does not weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of
witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249; Weaver v.
Shadoan, 340 F.3d 398, 405 (6th Cir. 2003).
In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party “cannot rely on the
hope that the trier of fact will disbelieve the movant’s denial of a disputed fact, but must ‘present
affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.’”
Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir. 1989) (quoting Liberty Lobby, 477
U.S. at 257). That is, the nonmoving party has an affirmative duty to direct the court’s attention
to those specific portions of the record upon which it seeks to rely to create a genuine issue of
material fact. In re Morris, 260 F.3d 654, 665 (6th Cir. 2001). But the existence of a mere
scintilla of evidence in support of the opposing party’s position is insufficient; there must be
evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the opposing party. Liberty Lobby, 477
U.S. at 252.
Otherwise stated, the nonmoving party must present “significant probative
evidence” to demonstrate that “there is [more than] some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Moore v. Phillip Morris Companies, Inc., 8 F.3d 335, 340 (6th Cir. 1993).
The United States asserts that the Marcy Road property is forfeitable pursuant to 21
U.S.C. § 881(a)(6), the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (“CAFRA”), which provides
in relevant part that:
The following shall be subject to forfeiture to the United States and
no property right shall exist in them:
(6) All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things
of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in
exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation
of this subchapter, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and
all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended
to be used to facilitate any violation of this subchapter.
21 U.S.C. § 881(a). Under CAFRA, the burden of proof is on the United States to establish, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that the seized property is subject to forfeiture. See 18 U.S.C. §
983(c)(1); United States v. $174,206.00 in U.S. Currency, 320 F.3d 658, 662 (6th Cir. 2003).
Thus, to ultimately prevail in this civil forfeiture action, Plaintiff must prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that the seized property (1) somehow facilitated the transportation, sale, receipt,
possession, or concealment of an illegal controlled substance, or (2) constitutes proceeds derived
from Winston’s drug trafficking activities. In this case, Plaintiff does not argue that the Marcy
Road property somehow facilitated the transportation, sale, receipt, possession, or concealment
of an illegal controlled substance. Therefore, the only question before the Court is whether the
Marcy Road property constitutes proceeds derived from Claimant’s drug trafficking and money
When moving forward under this “drug proceeds” theory, Plaintiff is not required to
prove a direct or substantial connection between the subject property and a specific drug
transaction. United States v. $118,170.00 in U.S. Currency, 69 F. App’x. 714, 717 (6th Cir.
2003). “Instead, reasonable inferences may be drawn from the evidence presented to establish a
nexus between the property and drug activity.” United States v. Veggacado, 37 F. App’x. 189,
190 (6th Cir. 2002). Various circumstances may be taken into account when determining
whether property is subject to forfeiture such as the absence of any legitimate employment
history, the insufficiency of the claimant’s reported income, and the claimant’s record of drug
activity. See U.S. v. Cunningham, 520 F. App’x. 413, 415 (6th Cir. 2013); United States v.
$174,206.00, 320 F.3d at 662. Additionally, the Sixth Circuit has recognized that “evidence of
legitimate income that is insufficient to explain the large amount of property seized, unrebutted
by any evidence pointing to any other source of legitimate income or any evidence indicating
innocent ownership, satisfies the burden imposed by the statute.” United States v. $174,206.00,
320 F.3d at 662.
After reviewing the record and the parties’ arguments, the Court finds Plaintiff has met
its burden demonstrating that no genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the Marcy
Road property was more likely than not purchased with proceeds from Winston’s drug
trafficking operation. In November 2012, Winston purchased the Marcy Road property for
$36,500 in cash over a three month period, including a large lump sum down payment of
$14,500, followed by four subsequent cash payments totaling $22,000.2 (See Doc. 1, Ex. 1, Prob.
Cause Aff. at ¶¶ 18-23). During this time, Winston took part in a significant drug trafficking
operation, valued at over four million dollars. See United States v. Winston, No. 2-13-cr-92
(S.D. Ohio Oct. 31, 2013) (Doc. 31 (Sentencing Hearing Transcript)). Specifically, Winston
pled guilty to money laundering and conspiring to possess and distribute more than 1,000
kilograms of marijuana from May 2010 to December 31, 2012.3
(See id. at Docs. 14
(Information) and 32 (Plea Hearing Transcript)). Additionally, Winston had previously been
convicted of similar drug trafficking activities, and, prior to his release in 2009, had been
incarcerated for 240 months. (See Doc. 29, Ex. 1, Pretrial Rep.). As a claimant’s criminal record
“is a highly probative factor in the forfeiture calculus,” the Court finds Winston’s serious and
undisputed illegal activity, especially during the time he purchased the subject property,
persuasive. See United States v. $67,220.00 in U.S. Currency, 957 F.2d 280, 286 (6th Cir. 1992).
As part of the sale Winston also paid $8,291.23 in delinquent property taxes to the Fairfield County Auditor’s
Office. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, Prob. Cause Aff. at ¶ 20).
Winston is currently serving a sentence of 135 months in prison. (See id. at Doc. 31 (Sentencing Hearing
The Court acknowledges the tax records Winston previously filed with the Court, but
finds they does not alter the Court’s decision. Winston submitted tax returns showing that he
reported legitimate income from “Tek-Collect Incorporated” and his own waste management
business, Winston Hauling, from 2009 to 2011. (See Doc. 30, Ex. E, W2 forms; Doc. 33, Tax
Transcripts)). However, the Court has no evidence of Winston earning any legitimate income in
2012, the year during which he bought the subject property. Nor has Winston provided bank
statements or records indicating that he saved enough of his past earnings to legitimately
purchase, in large lump sum cash payments, the Marcy Road property. Thus, the Court finds
Winston’s illegal drug operation is the only plausible source of income, supported by evidence in
the record, from which Winston could have purchased the Marcy Road property.
The Court also finds that Winston’s evidentiary objections do not help him, as all
information pertinent to the Court’s decision is supported by (1) evidence submitted by Winston
himself and/or (2) Winston’s own plea agreement. Therefore, even without considering the
contested portions of Ryan Marvich’s affidavit and declaration,4 the Court finds Plaintiff has still
met its burden in showing no genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether Winston more
likely than not purchased the Marcy Road property with proceeds from illegal drug activity.
For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment is
The Clerk shall REMOVE Document 27 from the Court’s pending motions list.
The Clerk shall also remove this case from the Court’s pending cases list.
The only paragraphs from Marvich’s Probable Cause Affidavit cited by the Court in this Opinion are not
disputed—on either veracity or admissibility grounds—by Winston. (See Doc. 22, Answer (stating that Winston
does not dispute paragraphs 18 – 23 of the Probable Cause Affidavit).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ George C. Smith__________________
GEORGE C. SMITH, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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