United States v. $61,200.00 in U.S. Currency, More or Less

805 F. Supp. 2d 682 (2010)

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United States v. $61,200.00 in U.S. Currency, More or Less

United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
805 F. Supp. 2d 682 (2010)

Facts

Brian Szymczak was pulled over for a routine traffic stop in Iowa while driving his van back to California following a trip to Michigan. The police officer smelled marijuana and asked Szymczak whether marijuana or large amounts of cash were in the van. After Szymczak initially denied having either, Szymczak admitted having several marijuana cigarettes and approximately $60,000 in the van. Szymczak claimed that the cash was his life savings earned during a lengthy career as a telephone repairman—although Szymczak ultimately only produced limited tax returns to support that claim—and that the cash was in the van because Szymczak wished to purchase a safe in Michigan, but was unable to do so. Szymczak consented to a search of the van, and the police officer found more than $60,000 in small bills in a tool bag and several sealed plastic packets on the van’s floor and hidden in the bottom of a cereal box. The officer also found marijuana in various places throughout the van, some of which was sealed in plastic packets, and paraphernalia for consuming marijuana. Marijuana residue, paraphernalia for consuming and selling marijuana, and two firearms were subsequently found in Szymczak’s storage unit in Michigan. Szymczak pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. The federal government (plaintiff) filed an in rem forfeiture action against the cash found in Szymczak’s van (defendant) and moved for summary judgment, alleging that the cash was connected to unlawful drug trafficking. Szymczak opposed the government’s forfeiture claim.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jarvey, J.)

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