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United States v. 058.00

decided: October 7, 1963.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
$1,058.00 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY, NATHAN GRANOFF, CLAIMANT, APPELLANT. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. $2,007.43 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY AND $440.10 IN CHECKS AND MONEY ORDERS, MEYER SIGAL, CLAIMANT, APPELLANT. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. $395.96 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY AND A $25.00 CHECK, ABE RABINOVITZ, CLAIMANT, APPELLANT.



Author: Kalodner

Before KALODNER, HASTIE and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

KALODNER, Circuit Judge.

These appeals are from Orders of the District Court of the United States in three consolidated libel proceedings under Section 7302 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954*fn1 for forfeiture of currency and checks, alleged to have been used in violation of the provisions of the internal revenue wagering tax laws.*fn2

The District Court, following trial, found that the claimant Sigal was a principal, and the claimants Granoff and Rabinovitz were his assistants, in operating a segment of a large scale "numbers" operation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; that none of the claimants had paid the special tax of $50 imposed by the revenue laws on persons engaged in receiving wagers and that they had not registered their place of business - Whity's Luncheonette - as required by the revenue laws; that the evidence made out a prima facie case and that the currency and checks taken from the pockets of the claimants at the time of their arrest by Robert J. Madden, a special agent in the Intelligence Division of the Internal Revenue Service, "were guilty instrumentalities that had been used in an illegal numbers operation, i.e., wagers and were intended to be so used therein,"*fn3 and as such were subject to forfeiture under ยง 7302.

The evidence discloses that an undercover sureillance of Whitey's Luncheonette - a combination restaurant and poolroom - was launched by the Internal Revenue Service on September 11, 1961, under the direction and supervision of Madden, for the purpose of obtaining information regarding suspected violation of the wagering tax laws by the claimants and others. Madden's men in the days following made wagers by purchasing "numbers" from various numbers writers in the vicinity of Whitey's and observed that these writers, and others known as writers and "pick-up men", entered Whitey's and gave money and checks along with packs of numbers slips to Sigal, Rabinovitz and Granoff who placed the money and checks in their pockets and the numbers slips in a bag, which was later shipped out.

On November 17, 1961 Madden obtained a warrant to search Whitey's for gambling paraphernalia and arrest warrants for the claimants. He served the warrants on November 20th and in the course of the arrests seized the currency and checks found in the pockets of the claimants. The search of the premises revealed six packs of numbers slips in an onion bin in the kitchen, one pack of numbers slips in a cuspidor and adding machine tapes were found in a phone booth.

On these appeals the claimants challenge only the District Court's holding that Madden was authorized to execute the arrest warrants. It is their contention that Madden did not have the power to execute the arrest warrants. They urge that as a special agent in the Intelligence Division of the Internal Revenue Service, he lacked statutory authority to execute the arrest warrants,*fn4 and for that reason the arrests and seizures were unlawful, and, accordingly, under our holding in United States v. Plymouth Coupe, 182 F.2d 180 (3 Cir., 1950) that property unlawfully seized cannot be forfeited, the orders of forfeiture should be reversed.

We deem it unnecessary to our disposition of these appeals to consider the issue with respect to whether or not Madden was authorized by law to execute the arrest warrants because we are of the opinion that contraband,*fn5 although unlawfully seized, may nevertheless be forfeited. Since we held to the contrary in United States v. Plymouth Coupe, supra, that decision is now overruled.

We are compelled to that result by the doctrine announced in United States v. One Ford Coupe, 272 U.S. 321, 47 S. Ct. 154, 71 L. Ed. 279 (1926).

In the One Ford Coupe case an automobile, used to conceal and deposit illicitly distilled liquor in violation of internal revenue laws, was seized by a federal prohibition agent whose authority to make the seizure was challenged in a forfeiture proceeding.

In holding the automobile to be subject to forfeiture, Mr. Justice Brandeis, speaking for the Court, said (272 U.S. p. 325, 47 S. Ct. pp. 155-156, 71 L. Ed. 279):

"It is settled that where property declared by a federal statute to be forfeited because used in violation of federal law is seized by one having no authority to do so, the United States may adopt the seizure with the same effect as if it had originally been made by one duly authorized."

The doctrine of One Ford Coupe has been applied by the circuits in Interbartolo v. United States, 303 F.2d 34, 38 (1 Cir., 1962); United States v. Carey, 272 F.2d 492, 494-495 (5 Cir., 1959); United States v. One 1956 Ford Tudor Sedan, 253 F.2d 725, 727 (4 Cir., 1958); United States v. Pacific Finance Corp., 110 F.2d 732 (2 Cir., 1940); Bourke v. United States, 44 F.2d 371 (6 Cir., 1930).*fn6

In United States v. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48, 72 S. Ct. 93, 96 L. Ed. 59 (1951), and Trupiano v. United States, 334 U.S. 699, 68 S. Ct. 1229, 92 L. Ed. 1663 (1948), where it was held that property illegally seized could not be used as evidence in a criminal ...


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