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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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