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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. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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