The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAW
The issue presented for disposition now is whether the Government lien for income taxes became effective before the cash became contraband and subject to forfeiture to the State. It is contended by the Government that $265,000 of the cash seized was in a locked vault and was the property of Joseph Moriarity, a notorious gambler.
On August 12, 1947, a tax delinquency in the amount of $81,356.10 was assessed against Moriarity. On August 26, 1947, there was demand for payment of the assessment. On March 8, 1955, judgment was obtained in favor of the United States against Moriarity for $161,139.72, plus costs. The raid occurred on July 14, 1960, at which time the Kaisers were arrested and $275,841.85 was seized and delivered to the Bergen County Treasurer. The Kaisers were indicted and convicted of gambling operations on the premises and the convictions were affirmed by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. State v. Kaiser, 74 N.J. Super. 257, 181 A. 2d 184 (App. Div. 1962). A petition for certification to the New Jersey Supreme Court was denied on September 17, 1962.
An evidentiary hearing was conducted to determine whether Moriarity had property rights in the funds seized when the federal liens came into existence. The pertinent facts adduced at hearing can be briefly summarized as follows:
A search warrant was executed by the New Jersey State Police on July 14, 1960, at 53 Forrest Place, North Arlington, New Jersey. Betting slips and other gambling paraphernalia were found on the first floor of the premises together with a substantial amount of cash. There were two bedrooms on the second floor and one was searched. The search of a chest of drawers produced bundles of $1 bills and bundles of $100 bills, the total amount found being $3,650. A fire-proof steel chest was observed in this bedroom. It was 13 inch wide, 16 1/2 inch long and 9 inch in depth and was locked. It was pried open by the police and found to be packed full of cash amounting to $265,000. There is evidence which permits the inference that Joseph Moriarity occupied this bedroom at one time. Prescription bottles issued to Moriarity were found in a desk drawer and items of personal property found in the bedroom support such inference. Subsequent to the raid it was discovered that Moriarity had two keys which would open the lock of the vault. There was a long and continuous record of convictions of Moriarity for gambling going back to 1935. Officer Frank P. Kolodzieski of the New Jersey State Police testified that he had three sheets of records of such convictions with seven convictions listed on each sheet. This officer, who qualified for expert testimony on gambling operations, stated that it was his opinion that the $265,000 found in the vault or steel box was part of a gambling operation. There is evidence that the betting slips found on the first floor indicated approximately $12,000 in receipts for the day.
This witness further testified that it is not general practice for those engaged in illegal gambling operations to utilize banks for deposit of money or to keep commercial records of transactions. He expressed the opinion that the money found in the box was money that Moriarity was stashing away for the time when he was going to get out of the gambling business. He further identified Moriarity as a man who had been conducting illegal gambling operations from as early as 1930.
The question of fact to be resolved is whether the $265,000 found in the box was money which had been accumulated by Moriarity from his gambling operations which pre-dated the Government lien. There is evidence that Moriarity also conducted a news business, but the evidence as to his profits from his newsboy activities is not entirely credible. On the other hand, his long record of operations in illegal gambling has not been refuted. The summary of his career as set forth by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Farley v. $168,400.97, 55 N.J. 31, 259 A. 2d 201 (1969), was corroborated at the evidentiary hearing by Officer Kolodzieski and by Treasury Agent Toscano produced by the Government. In writing the opinion for the New Jersey Supreme Court in Farley v. $168,400.97, supra, Chief Justice Weintraub stated:
For many years Moriarity was a notorious "kingpin" in the "numbers racket" in and around Jersey City. His criminal record in that field dates from the 1930s. On March 2, 1962 he was sentenced to State Prison on a guilty plea to possession of lottery slips, and he remained in the State's custody until March 12, 1964, when he was delivered to federal authorities who held him until January 6, 1965. While Moriarity was thus in custody, a chance event occurred which ultimately led to this litigation. On July 3, 1962 some workmen, renovating private garages at 127-131 Oxford Avenue, Jersey City, discovered $2,438,110 in currency and sundry papers in an old automobile. Those papers revealed Moriarity's operation of a gambling enterprise over an extended period. (55 N.J. 31, 259 A. 2d 201 at 202)
There is no doubt that the premises at 53 Forrest Place, North Arlington, occupied by the Kaisers at the time of the raid was the situs of a substantial gambling business. The nature of that business and the gambling paraphernalia found at the time of the raid indicated that the business had been in operation for a considerable period of time. The evidence also permits as the more reasonable inference that Moriarity had at one time occupied the bedroom on the second floor and had access to the strong box in which $265,000 in cash was stashed away. The Kaisers had access to this bedroom and the strong box, weighing from 20 to 25 pounds, was in their possession and under their control. The fact that the Kaisers did not produce a key to open it does not eliminate the likelihood that they did have access to it or could have gained access to it. Two keys were found in the possession of Moriarity, but they were keys which could be duplicated. It is also significant that a substantial amount of cash was also found in this bedroom in a chest of drawers to which the Kaisers had ready access.
The operation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 6321, 6322, which creates a federal tax lien, and 26 U.S.C. § 7403, which provides for a civil action to enforce a lien, are dependent upon state law concerning whether the taxpayer had "property" or "rights to property" in a fund which can be reached by federal authority. Aquilino v. U.S., 363 U.S. 509, 512-513, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1365, 80 S. Ct. 1277 (1960). Under state law N.J.S.A. 2A:152-7 it is provided that whatever currency is seized in connection with any arrest for violation of or conspiracy to violate any gambling laws, the currency shall be deemed prima facie to be contraband of law as part of a gambling operation.
A presumption is, therefore, created which, unless rebutted, will prevail. Farley v. $168,400.97, supra.
In this case the seizure occurred subsequent to the time when the Government's lien was perfected by judgment, but the forfeiture to the State does not depend upon the time of the arrest and the seizure. The forfeiture occurs as of the time the property becomes contraband by virtue of its illegal use. In Farley v. $168,400.97, supra, it was stated:
In short, then, when a statute provides for a forfeiture, the forfeiture takes place upon the occurrence of the forbidden act or omission unless the statute provides otherwise, and the sovereign's title is in no sense inchoate because procedural due process requires an opportunity to dispute the claim of forfeiture in a judicial proceeding. The judgment in such a proceeding simply resolves a title contest, as it does in other settings, as when the situs of ownership depends upon the construction of a will or a deed, or upon a relationship to a deceased, or upon adverse possession. The judgment which ...