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Appeals court upholds seizure, transfer of suspected drug money

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A man who challenged the seizure of $25,000 in suspected drug money and its transfer to federal authorities lost his appeal, but the Indiana Court of Appeals was troubled by the state’s failure to provide him notice of the request for the transfer.

The appeals court Monday unanimously affirmed a Dearborn Circuit Court order transferring the money in Dante Adams v. State of Indiana, No. 15C01-1106-MI-29. Dante Adams appealed the order, contending that he was entitled to notice that the state was requesting the money be transferred for the beginning of forfeiture proceedings. Adams also questioned the lawfulness of a search.

The case originated with Adams’ arrest at the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg on June 18, 2011. Adams attempted to exchange $20,000 in cash of various denominations, and he became argumentative with a teller.

Indiana Gaming Commission agents intervened and questioned Adams’ identity after he said he lived in Indianapolis but produced an Arizona identification. Agents determined that Adams was wanted on a Texas parole warrant, and he was arrested by Lawrenceburg police, who confiscated the $20,000.

Police subsequently searched Adams’ vehicle and found another $5,000, and a drug-sniffing dog indicated positive for narcotics during the vehicle search.

On June 28, 2011, authorities filed a motion to transfer the money to federal authorities to begin forfeiture proceedings. Adams argued that the transfer should not have happened because he wasn’t given notice of the request.

“Adams has confused our forfeiture statutes with the turnover statute,” Judge Edward W. Najam Jr. wrote. “We are not (yet) concerned with the forfeiture of the $25,000 and, therefore, Adams’ argument is misplaced. That said, we are also not persuaded by the State’s argument that Adams was not entitled to notice of its motion.”

Najam wrote that transfers of property may be challenged if a defendant contests the search as unlawful. “The state’s arguments on appeal that it was not required to give Adams notice of its motion to transfer are not well taken,” Najam wrote.

The appeals court said that for Adams to succeed on a claim of lack of notice, he would have to demonstrate prejudice as a result.

“Adams contends that he has been prejudiced by the transfer order because the underlying search had no ‘nexus between the cash and the … offense.’ We cannot agree,” Najam wrote.

“Here, there is no serious question that the facts underlying the search of Adams’ car and the seizure of his cash were supported by probable cause and were, therefore, lawful,” he wrote.



 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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