United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Anthony Dwayne
Lestrick's request for return of property (Dkt. No. 119).
Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and
the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument
unnecessary and hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons
15, 2012, the assorted jewelry which is the subject of Mr.
Lestrick's request was seized from his residence by law
enforcement. (Dkt. No. 122-1 at 2.) On June 22, 2012, a
federal Complaint for Violation was filed against Mr.
Lestrick in the above-captioned case. (See Dkt. No.
1.) On July 9, 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) sent written notice pursuant to 19 U.S.C. §
1607(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 983(a) of the seized jewelry to
Mr. Lestrick by certified mail, return receipt requested.
(Dkt. No. 122-1 at 2-3.) It was received on July 20, 2012.
(Id.) Notice was also sent to Mr. Lestrick's
wife and son, which was received on July 20, 2012.
(Id. at 3.) The August 13, 2012 deadline to file a
claim was expressly stated on each notice. (Id. at
16, 2012, Mr. Lestrick entered an Appearance Bond for his
release and was released from custody. (See Dkt. No.
10.) On July 19, 2012 a grand jury returned an indictment,
charging Mr. Lestrick with felony drug and firearms charges.
(See Dkt. No. 11.) The indictment included an asset
forfeiture allegation in which the United States notified Mr.
Lestrick of its intent to forfeit, pursuant to 21 U.S.C.
§ 853, any and all property that facilitated, and/or
derived from proceeds of, the felony drug offenses. (See
Id. at 3-5.) The assorted jewelry, which is the subject
of Mr. Lestrick's request, was listed in the asset
forfeiture allegation. (Id. at 3-4.)
23, July 30, and August 6, 2012, the DEA published notice,
pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1607(a), of the seizure of the
jewelry in The Wall Street Journal, a newspaper of
general circulation in the Western District of Washington.
(Dkt. No. 122-1 at 3-4, 15-17.) If mailed notice was not
received (which it was in this case), the last day to file
was September 6, 2012. (Id. at 4, 15.)
August 20, 2012, seven days after the deadline to file a
claim, DEA received a claim for seized property from Mr.
Lestrick through his attorney, Michael Ewetuga. (Id.
at 4, 18-26.) On September 17, 2012, the DEA notified Mr.
Lestrick, via certified mail to his attorney, that his claim
had been rejected as untimely. (Id. at 4, 27-28.)
However, DEA conveyed to Mr. Lestrick's attorney that he
could file a petition for remission or mitigation of
forfeiture. (Id.) DEA did not receive a claim for
remission or mitigation of the forfeiture. (Id. at
5.) On October 29, 2013, the jewelry was administratively
forfeited. (Dkt. No. 122-1 at 4, 30-31.)
January 17, 2013, a federal grand jury returned a second
superseding indictment which also included an asset
forfeiture allegation. (See Dkt. No. 45.) The
forfeiture of the assorted jewelry was included in both
indictments. (Dkt. Nos. 11 and 45.)
April 9, 2013, Mr. Lestrick entered a plea agreement. (Dkt.
No. 69.) As part of that plea agreement, Mr. Lestrick agreed
to forfeit, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853, any and all
property that facilitated, and/or derived from proceeds of,
the offenses to which he pleaded guilty. (Id. at
¶ 1, 13.) However, the jewelry was crossed off the list
and initialed by Mr. Lestrick, his attorney, and the
Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA). (Dkt. Nos. 69 at 7,
119 at 5.) Mr. Lestrick interprets that change to the plea
paperwork as the Government agreeing not to forfeit the
jewelry, and that by doing so the Government breached its
contract with Mr. Lestrick. (Dkt. No. 119 at 1.) Mr. Lestrick
now brings the current motion for the return of his jewelry
or the stated value of $21, 695. (Id.)
procedures and deadlines for filing a claim in an
administrative forfeiture action are set forth in 18 U.S.C.
§ 983(a)(2)(A)-(E). A federal court lacks jurisdiction
to review the merits of an administrative forfeiture decision
except in circumstances in which the court's review
“is limited to determining whether the agency followed
the proper procedural safeguards when it declared [the
claimant's] property summarily forfeited.” 19
U.S.C. § 1609(b); Kairis v. United States, 2006
WL 2708555, at *5 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 20, 2006) (citing
United States v. One 1987 Jeep Wrangler, 972 F.2d
472, 480 (2d Cir. 1992)).
Mr. Lestrick has made no argument regarding the adequacy of
notice of the administrative forfeiture proceeding as a basis
for his request. Further, as outlined above, DEA followed
proper procedures. Mr. Lestrick was given an opportunity to
file a petition for remission or mitigation of the forfeiture
but neither he nor Mr. Ewetuga did so. There were no
procedural defects in the administrative forfeiture