United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR THE RETURN
OF PERSONAL PROPERTY, PURSUANT TO FED. R. CRIM. P. 41(g)
Page Hood Chief Judge, United States District Court
December 2010, defendant Manuel Rodgers' property was
seized incident to arrest and executed search warrants. Such
property was subsequently forfeited shortly thereafter.
Defendant's property consisted of $1, 124.00 and $4,
500.00 in U.S. currency and a Canon Rebel camera. The $1,
124.00 was seized incident to his arrest; the camera was
seized when the DEA-Detroit Enforcement Group 4 subsequently
executed a State of Michigan search warrant at a Detroit
residence; and the $4, 500.00 was seized when the DEA-Detroit
Enforcement Group 4 executed a State of Michigan search
warrant at Rodgers' business.
was served with notice of forfeiture by the Walled Lake
Police Department, which warned that failure to file a claim
of interest and bond within 20 days would cause the property
to be declared forfeited. He failed to contest the notice of
forfeiture. As a result, Defendant's property was
administratively forfeited by the Walled Lake Police
Department. The U.S. currency was held by the Walled Lake
Police Department, while the Canon Rebel camera was held for
safekeeping with the DEA-Detroit Divisional Office.
was indicted on three drug trafficking charges, and in April
2012, he was found guilty by jury of possession with intent
to distribute 171 pounds of marijuana (Count 2) and
possession with intent to distribute 7 kilograms of cocaine
(Count 3), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).
Rodgers was found not guilty on possession with intent to
distribute 24 kilograms of cocaine (Count 1).
11, 2016, Defendant filed a Rule 41(g) motion to compel the
Government to release his personal property. Rule 41(g)
allows persons to move the Government to return property and
A person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of
property or by the deprivation of property may move for the
property's return. The motion must be filed in the
district where the property was seized. The Court must
receive evidence on any factual issue necessary to decide the
motion. If it grants the motion, the court must return the
property to the movant, but may impose reasonable conditions
to protect access to the property and its use in later
Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(g).
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
Government claims that it is not in possession of the
property that Defendant seeks. In United States v.
Ocampo, No. 06-20172, 2009 WL 3617987, at *2 (E.D. Mich.
Oct. 30, 2009), the court was found to have jurisdiction to
order the return of the defendant's property, despite the
fact that searches were conducted by state authorities
because the searches were merely alleged by the defendant to
have been conducted as part of a federal investigation and
pursuant to a federal search warrant.
to Ocampo, this Court has subject-matter
jurisdiction to order the return of Defendant's $1,
124.00 and $4, 500.00 in U.S. currency, despite the fact that
the Walled Lake Police Department held possession of this
currency, because the $1, 124.00 was seized and forfeited by
a Task Force Officer pursuant to arrest, and the $4, 500.00
was seized and forfeited pursuant to the DEA-Detroit
Enforcement Group 4 execution of a State of Michigan search
warrant. This court also has jurisdiction over
Defendant's Canon camera, as the record indicates that
the DEA-Detroit Divisional Office held possession of the
camera for safekeeping.
RELIEF UNDER FED. R. Civ. P. 41(g)
Defendant was notified of forfeiture proceedings; therefore,
his matter is a civil action in equity.
court in United States v. One 1974 Learjet 24D, 191
F.3d 668, 673 (6th Cir.1999), stated that once the property
owner has been notified that forfeiture proceedings have been
initiated, Rule 41(g) is no longer applicable; and that the
claimant must instead submit to the statutory procedures
governing civil forfeiture proceedings, which are set forth
in 18 U.S.C.A. § 983. The record indicates that the
Walled Lake Police Department served Defendant with a notice
of forfeiture and that such provided Defendant with the
opportunity to contest. Therefore, because Defendant was
notified that forfeiture proceedings had been initiated,
relief to Rodgers cannot be granted under Rule 41(g). See
United States v. King, 442 F. App'x 212, 213 (6th
Cir. 2011) (“A motion to set aside a forfeiture under
18 U.S.C. § 983(e) is the exclusive remedy for seeking
to set aside a declaration of forfeiture under a civil
Defendant's criminal proceeding concluded; therefore, his