United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM J. MARTINI. U.S.D.J.
MATTER comes before the Court upon Defendant Daniel
Gatson's Motion for Return of Seized Property. Def .s
Mot., ECF 212. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's motion is DENIED.
November 2, 2015, following a three-week trial, a jury found
Gatson guilty of twelve counts related to interstate
transportation of stolen property. ECF No. 120-133.
30, 2016, Gatson was sentenced to 300 months incarceration
and ordered to make full restitution in the amount of $3,
597, 081.00. ECF No. 159. On the same date, the Court issued
a final order of forfeiture of property as to Gatson that
included a list of 101 items, including: (1) jewelry
recovered from Gatson's hotel room on the day of his
arrest; (2) various jewelry and watches recovered from his
residence in Georgia; (3) various autographed NBA jerseys
recovered from his residence in Georgia; (4) quantities of
United States and foreign currency recovered from his New
York hotel room and his residence in North Bergen, New
Jersey; (5) a fraudulent identification card in the name of
Craig Streets recovered from his New York hotel room. ECF No.
13, 2016, Gatson provided notice of appeal and on August 9,
2018, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion
and order affirming Gatson's conviction and sentence. ECF
No. 206, 209. The Supreme Court of the United States denied
Gatson's petition for writ of certiorari on October 7,
2019. Gatson v. United States. No. 18-9700, 2019 WL
4922309, at *1 (U.S. Oct. 7, 2019).
MOTION FOR RETURN OF PROPERTY
Property Subject to Forfeiture
is well settled that the government is permitted to seize
evidence for use in investigation and trial, but that such
property must be returned once criminal proceedings have
concluded, unless it is contraband or subject to
forfeiture." United States v. Chambers, 192
F.3d 374, 376 (3d Cir. 1999). Thus, under Fed. R. Crim. P.
41(g), the district court has jurisdiction over a motion for
return of property made after the termination of criminal
proceedings. Id.; see also Chambers, 192 F.3d at
376. The heavy evidentiary burden for a Rule 41(g) motion
lies with the government to demonstrate it has a legitimate
reason to retain the seized property. Id. (citing
Chambers, 192 F.3d at 377).
requests that all of the seized items described in Exhibits
A, B, and C of his motion be returned to him immediately. Def
s Mot. 3. Exhibits A, B, and C are inventories from searches
of his residence in Stone Mountain, Georgia; his residence in
North Bergen, New Jersey; and a Marriott hotel room in
Uniondale, New York, respectively. Id. at 9-21.
Gatson argues that his seized property should be returned
because it was not used in his criminal trial as evidence and
that the government did not prove that the seized items were
connected to criminal activity. Def.'s Mot. 4-6.
property is forfeited criminally, the forfeiture is part of
the defendant's sentence and may only be challenged on
direct appeal. See United States v. Noyes, 557
Fed.Appx. 125, 126-28 (3d Cir. 2014); Winkelman v. United
States, 494 Fed.Appx. 217, 220 (3d Cir. 2012) (defendant
should have raised his challenge to the forfeiture judgment
in his direct appeal, not under Rule 41(g) and to obtain
interest in forfeited property, defendant must first succeed
in invalidating his judgment); United States v.
Bernard, 537 Fed.Appx. 72, 74 (3d Cir. 2013) (district
court has no jurisdiction to consider Rule 41(g) motion for
return of property once it has been forfeited in a criminal
case). To the extent Gatson's motion pursuant to Rule
41(g) is a challenge to this Court's June 30, 2016 final
order of forfeiture, it is an improper attempt to challenge a
component of his sentence. Id. (citing Young v.
United States, 489 F.3d 313, 315 (7th Cir. 2007)).
Consequently, to the extent items listed on the relevant
search inventories-Exhibits A, B, and C-overlap with the list
of 101 items listed in this Court's forfeiture order,
Defendant's motion for return of property pursuant to
Rule 41(g) is denied.
Property That Is Contraband
41(g) motion for the return of seized property may be denied
if the property is "derivative contraband" that the
defendant may not possess. See United States v.
Uribe-Londono, 238 Fed.Appx. 628, 629 (1st Cir. 2007);
United States v. Cam, 2017 WL 8288088 (D. Nev. Dec.
11, 2017) (denying motion for the return of contraband
firearms). As a convicted felon, Gatson is prohibited from
possessing firearms and ammunition. Accordingly, the firearms
and ammunition recovered from Gatson's resident in
Georgia is contraband and cannot be returned to him.
Currency to be Credited ...