United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Smith Camp Chief United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the Findings and Recommendation
(Filing No. 142), issued by Magistrate Judge Thomas D.
Thalken recommending that the Request for Joinder (Filing No.
86) filed by Defendant Kimberly Santiago Robinson's
(“K. Robison”) be granted; and the Motion for
Return of Property (Filing No. 83) filed by Defendant Brian
Robinson (“B. Robinson”) and K. Robinson
(collectively “Defendants”) be denied. Defendants
filed Objections (Filing No. 151) to the Findings and
Recommendation as allowed by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C)
and NECrimR 59.2(a). The Government has not responded to the
Objections. For the reasons set forth below, the Findings and
Recommendation will be adopted, the Objection will be
overruled, and the Motion for Return of Property will be
November 19, 2015, B. Robinson and K. Robinson, with three
other defendants, were charged in a Second Superseding
Indictment (Filing No. 70), with conspiracy to distribute
marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count I) and
conspiracy to launder money in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1956 (Count III). B. Robinson also was charged with
interstate travel with regard to a racketeering enterprise in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952 (Count II). The Second
Superseding Indictment identified a variety of funds seized
by law enforcement on June 1, 2015, and alleged that the
funds were connected to the crimes alleged and subject to
Magistrate Judge made detailed Findings of Fact in his
Findings and Recommendation (Filing No. 142). Defendants do
not object to those findings, and they are adopted in their
entirety. The following is a summary of those facts:
October 23, 2013, law enforcement, suspecting criminal
activity, learned that two packages were being mailed from
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Fairfield, California. One
package was mailed from B. Robinson in Pittsburgh and
addressed to K. Robinson at a P.O. Box associated with B.
Robinson in Fairfield. Another was mailed from the same
Pittsburgh address by “Pacaproperties” to
“S&R Consultants” at the same Fairfield P.O.
the packages' arrival in Fairfield on October 24, 2013, a
drug dog alerted to both packages. Law enforcement observed
B. Robinson retrieve both packages and leave the post office.
Law enforcement then stopped B. Robinson pursuant to a state
warrant and seized the packages. Law enforcement found a
total of $289, 400 cash. Law enforcement thereafter searched
B. Robinson's Fairfield residence, and found a gun, $20,
000 cash, 3.5 grams of marijuana, and items believed to be
associated with distribution of marijuana.
October 30, 2013, after obtaining a search warrant, law
enforcement searched two more packages sent from Pittsburgh
and addressed to B. Robinson at the Fairfield P.O. Box,
finding and seizing $164, 020 in cash. In addition to that
cash and other evidence, law enforcement seized funds from
the Defendants' home and several bank accounts in the
name of the Defendants and their two minor children. Law
enforcement also seized a computer and a boat. On November
13, 2013, law enforcement conducted a search of a parcel of
rural property in El Dorado County, California, pursuant to a
state search warrant, and found evidence allegedly linking B.
Robinson to an interstate marijuana operation.
February 6, 2014, the United States Attorney in the Eastern
District of California filed a civil forfeiture action (the
“California Action”) against the $164, 020 in
cash, claiming the currency was involved in federal drug law
April 25, 2014, an officer of the Seward County, Nebraska,
Sheriff's Office stopped B. Robinson as he was traveling
westbound on Interstate 80. The officer searched B.
Robinson's vehicle and eventually found and seized $380,
050 in cash from a duffel bag, other duffle bags smelling of
marijuana, and two bags containing small amounts of
marijuana. Robinson told law enforcement the money was earned
December 30, 2014, the Eastern District of California entered
a Stipulation and Order for Dismissal with Prejudice of the
civil forfeiture action against the $164, 020 in cash, and
ordered the government to return the $164, 020 to B. Robinson
via his attorney.
January 8, 2015, the DEA sent a letter to Robinson agreeing
to return an additional $315, 523 in seized cash and $25,
040.63 from seized bank accounts. On February 3, 2015, $504,
831.37 was deposited by the government into B. Robinson's
lawyer's client trust account. On February 24, 2015, a
check for $379, 841.37 was distributed from B. Robinson's
lawyer's client trust account to B. Robinson, and in
March 2015, B. Robinson deposited the $379, 841.37 into one
Wells Fargo Bank account. Later, B. Robinson moved the same
funds into various bank and investment accounts and withdrew
$100, 000 in cash.
1, 2015, law enforcement seized $220, 330.67 from various
bank accounts belonging to B. Robinson and $80, 000 cash from
B. Robinson's home. B. Robinson asserts that the money
seized on June 1, 2015, came from the $379, 841.37 that had
been returned to B. Robinson through his counsel after the
stipulation was entered in the California Action.
(See Filing No. 83-4 at 2.)
Magistrate Judge concluded that because the large sums of
cash indicated strong evidence of a connection to drug
activity, a return of property was not appropriate. The
Magistrate Judge also rejected the Defendants' claim that
the property should be returned under the doctrine of res
judicata, reasoning that nothing indicated that the funds
associated with the case in the Eastern District of
California were the same funds at issue in this case. The
Magistrate Judge also recommended that K. Robinson's
Motion for Joinder to B. Robinson's Motion for Return of
Property be granted because she demonstrated an interest in
B. Robinson's property.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), the Court must make a de novo
determination of those portions of the findings and
recommendation to which the Defendants have objected. The
Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
Magistrate Judge's findings or recommendation. The Court