United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER MOOTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S PRO SE MOTION FOR RETURN OF PERSONAL PROPERTY
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge
before the Court is Aswanth Nune's
(“Defendant”) pro se Motion for Return
of Personal Property, filed on November 7, 2019. ECF No. 1.
Defendant asks the Court to order the Government to return
his personal property to him, which was not subjected to
forfeiture, at the time of his removal from the United
States, or alternatively to order the Government to send his
property to the United States Consulate in Hyderabad, India.
Id. at PageID.3. The Government filed a Response on
November 8, 2019. ECF No. 2. Defendant did not file a Reply.
For the reasons that follow, the Court will MOOT in part and
DENY in part Defendant's Motion [#1].
instant action stems from a federal law enforcement
operation, where undercover agents from Homeland Security
Investigations (“HSI”) posed as owners and
employees of the University of Farmington
(“University”), which was located in Farmington
Hills, Michigan. 19-cr-20025, ECF No. 1,
PageID.7. Beginning in 2015, the undercover
operation designed to identify recruiters and entities
engaged in immigration fraud. Id. The University did
not employ any instructors, create a curriculum, nor conduct
any classes or educational activities. Id. at
PageID.8. Rather, the University was being used by foreign
citizens as a “pay to stay” scheme. Id.
is a citizen of India who first traveled to the United States
on a temporary student visa known as a F-1 visa. ECF No. 27,
PageID.116. On June 7, 2017, Defendant contacted the
University to discuss his possible enrollment. Id.
at PageID.117. Defendant eventually participated in the
“pay to stay” scheme so that he could remain and
work in the United States illegally. Id. at
PageID.115. Further, Defendant assisted at least eighteen
other foreign citizens to illegally remain, re-enter, and
work in the United States. Id. at PageID.119. In
return for his recruitment efforts, he received more than
$25, 000 in profits. ECF No. 27, PageID.115.
pled guilty to conspiring to commit visa fraud (18 U.S.C.
§ 1546(a)) and harboring aliens for profit (8 U.S.C.
§ 1324) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. On
September 3, 2019, this Court sentenced Defendant to
imprisonment for a total term of twelve months and one day.
ECF No. 32, PageID.149.
present Motion, Defendant requests the Court's assistance
in obtaining his property that was not subjected to
forfeiture. 19-mc-51643, ECF No. 1, PageID.3. He lists items
that were allegedly taken by the Government when he was
arrested at Detroit Metro Airport and items that were left in
Midland County Jail. Id. at PageID.2. Defendant is
set to be released on December 7, 2019.
Government responded to Defendant's Motion on November 8,
2019. See ECF No. 2. In its Response, the Government
explains that arrangements had “already been made with
[Defendant's] criminal attorney, Mr. Michael Rataj to
return [Defendant's] property[.]” Id. at
PageID.6. The Government asserts that if the United States
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents did not provide
the property to Mr. Rataj, it would ensure Defendant received
his property prior to his release and removal from the United
States. Id. at PageID.7. With regards to the
property listed at Midland County Jail, the Government
explains that Defendant must complete the jail's required
“Inmate Property Release” form. The Government
attached the incomplete form to its Response. See
ECF No. 2-1, PageID.10. The Government maintains that it does
not oppose Defendant's Motion for return of personal
property. ECF No. 2, PageID.7.
December 3, 2019, the Government confirmed with Mr. Rataj-and
advised the Court-that Defendant received his personal
property from DHS.
Law & Analysis
pro se litigant's pleadings are construed
liberally and judged against a less stringent standard than
pleadings drawn by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, a pro se litigant is
subject to the same rules of procedure and evidence as
litigants who are represented by counsel. See Faretta v.
California, 422 U.S. 806, 834 n. 46 (1975).
Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g):
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 ...