In early April 2016, Houlon Berman Managing Partner Richard A. Finci successfully recovered $44,000 in U.S. Currency seized by the Gaithersburg City Police Department after a drug raid on his client’s home. During the raid, which was targeting the client’s son, a quantity of cocaine, drug-dealing paraphernalia, a small sum of money from the son’s bedroom, and a large sum of money from the client’s bedroom were all seized. The City of Gaithersburg filed a Complaint for Forfeiture as to all of the money seized.
A twofold strategy was adopted to recover the money. First, procedural errors were attacked. Mr. Finci argued that the City had not followed the requirements of the Forfeiture law. Second, on the facts of the case, the argument was put forward that the money could be shown to be the proceeds of legitimate business activity of the clients and that only the money in the son’s bedroom was arguably connected to drug activity.
Maryland’s recently adopted changes to its Forfeiture law was very helpful in the successful effort. The City argued those amendments would not apply because the seizure occurred prior to the amendments going into effect. Case law was cited, and accepted, that the amendments would apply because the trial was taking place after the effective date of the amendments (Maryland Senate Bill 528, 2015 session-effective February 20, 2016). While walking into the courtroom for trial, the City relented and agreed to return all of the client’s money.