may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Elizabeth Rose Gordon,
$1,171.90 in Cash,
Filed July 22, 1997
Toussaint, Chief Judge
St. Louis County District Court
File No. C395601464
Robert A. O'Malley, Indian Legal Assistance Program, 107 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802 (for appellant)
Alan L. Mitchell, St. Louis County Attorney, Malcolm B. Davy, Assistant County Attorney, 100 N. Fifth Ave. W., #501, Duluth, MN 55802-1298 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Harten, Judge.
In June 1995, the St. Louis County police department executed a search warrant at the residence of appellant Elizabeth Rose Gordon and seized 164 grams of marijuana, drug distribution equipment, and $1,171.90 in cash. Following a forfeiture trial, the court ordered $18.90 of the cash returned to appellant and the remaining $1,153 forfeited as money found in proximity to a controlled substance.
Gordon challenges the forfeiture of $1,000 of the seized money, arguing that (1) proof of a legitimate source for the money was sufficient to rebut the presumption that the money was forfeitable, and (2) St. Louis County did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the money was associated with facilitating controlled substances crimes. Because Gordon failed to rebut the presumption that the money was forfeitable, we affirm.
Minn. Stat. § 609.5314, subd. 1 (1996), states in part:
(a) The following are presumed to be subject to administrative forfeiture under this section:
(1) all money * * * found in proximity to:
(i) controlled substances;
* * *
(b) A claimant of the property bears the burden to rebut this presumption.
Here, the parties have stipulated that the $1,171.90 in seized cash was found "in proximity" to the controlled substance and is presumed forfeitable. The county returned $18.90 found in a coin purse found in one pocket of a pair of jeans belonging to Gordon. The remainder of the money consisted of two bundles of cash found in another pocket of the same jeans. One bundle contained $153, of which $60 was admitted to be controlled substance buy money. Gordon does not challenge the forfeiture of this money. The other bundle contained $1,000, the forfeiture of which Gordon now appeals.
Gordon claims, and the county does not dispute, that the $1,000 represents money she won playing bingo the day before the money was seized. She argues that this proof of a "legitimate source" is sufficient to destroy the presumption of forfeitability. We disagree. The forfeiture statute is to be "liberally construed" so as to deter crime and reduce the economic incentive to participate in criminal activities. Minn. Stat. § 609.531, subd. 1a (1996); see also State v. Rosenfeld, 540 N.W.2d 915, 921 (Minn. App. 1995) (one goal of forfeiture is to protect the public by preventing continued drug trafficking). Further, all real or personal property used, or "intended for use," in a drug crime is subject to forfeiture. Minn. Stat. § 609.5311, subd. 2 (1996). Gordon must also show that the money was not associated with her use and sale of illegal drugs.
The evidence in the record as to Gordon's intended use of the $1,000 in bingo winnings is conflicting. In answer to interrogatories, Gordon stated that she was being evicted from her apartment for non-payment of rent and that the money would have "caught [her] up." At trial, she testified that she had the rent money and that she was being asked to leave her apartment because the landlord's daughter was moving back to town. She also testified that the bingo winnings were intended to buy a headstone for her daughter's grave. She offered, however, no corroborating testimony or proof to support these claims that the bingo winnings were to be spent on rent or a headstone.
Gordon admitted that (1) she used "bingo winnings to purchase marijuana in the past," (2) she smoked "a lot of marijuana," and (3) that her legal income was limited to social security disability benefits and income from gambling. The record supports the trial court's conclusion that Gordon (1) sold marijuana on a regular basis, and (2) failed to rebut the statutory presumption that the $1,000 was associated with her use and sale of illegal drugs.
[ ]1 Gordon subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to sell.