On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division.
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Case, Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld and Burling. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.
[4 NJ Page 572] A raid by the agents of the Attorney General was made on July 9, 1946, on the residence of Joseph Moriarty, where he lived with his mother and sisters. Moriarty
eluded the officers, went to the top floor of the building by means of a ladder through a trap door carrying and occasionally dropping bundles containing what subsequently proved to be cash, most of which was in small bills, $2,055 being in bills of one dollar denomination. He attempted to make his escape over the housetops and adjoining roofs but was stopped at the point of a gun. Currency amounting to $27,001.50 was seized under circumstances that will be referred to hereafter.
Moriarty was arrested and subsequently indicted in Hudson County on a charge of conducting a lottery on the premises raided. He was acquitted, however, by a trial jury on March 15, 1947. Joseph and his sister, Margaret, pursuant to the statute, then served notice on the Hudson County Treasurer demanding the return of the money seized at the time of the raid. The Collector of Internal Revenue filed a lien for delinquent income taxes, penalties and interest on the property belonging to Joseph Moriarty. The amount of the lien exceeded the amount of the money seized.
Moriarty and his sister both having demanded payment and the Collector of Internal Revenue likewise having demanded payment, the County Treasurer filed a bill of interpleader in the then Court of Chancery alleging doubt concerning the respective rights of the various claimants to the seized money and prayed that the claimants be interpleaded with respect to their claims. An order of restraint was issued enjoining the claimants from instituting or continuing any proceedings to recover the sum seized.
Margaret Moriarty filed an answer to the interpleader suit claiming she owned the greater portion of the money so seized, to wit, $26,794. Joseph Moriarty filed an answer stating he made no claim excepting for the sum of $207.50, which he alleged was illegally taken from his person at the time of the arrest and raid. The United States of America was permitted to intervene and filed an answer setting forth its claim for delinquent income taxes against Joseph Moriarty, reciting the perfecting of the lien and alleging that the fund in court
which came into possession of the County Treasurer belonged to Joseph Moriarty.
The officers who participated in the raid testified they found number slips, horse race betting data and various papers relating to gambling activities throughout the house. With respect to the ownership of the money seized on the raided premises, the testimony of Government witnesses consisted of their finding the lottery slips and other evidences of gambling, the locating of the steel ammunition box containing several large bundles of money in a bedroom closet located on the top floor of the house, an attempt by Moriarty to bribe some of the officers and to escape with part of the money which he removed from the ammunition box, delivery of a key by Moriarty to one of the raiding agents and the making of statements by him to state agents admitting ownership of all the money seized in the house.
Margaret Moriarty sought to sustain her claim for the money in question saying that on the day of the raid she left the house in the early morning and did not return until evening to learn for the first time the raid had taken place and that the money which she claimed to be hers had been taken from the ammunition box. Queried concerning the source of the money seized, she stated that the greater part thereof was given to her by her godfather over a period of years prior to his death in 1930 and the balance represented gifts and savings which she had accumulated. She could not give details with reference to the exact amount of the gifts but approximated sums which she thought were received. She usually kept the key to the box in a dresser drawer in her bedroom.
The appellant contends the testimony relied upon by the respondent was clearly hearsay and the court below placed total ownership in Moriarty upon mere conjecture and an unwillingness to believe her.
We need not make a further analysis of the evidence here submitted. In the disposition below, the court, referring to the facts and ...