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United States v. $166

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 7, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$166, 450.48 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY SEIZED FROM CHASE BANK Account No. XXXXXX3320, $121, 000.00 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY, and. APPROXIMATELY $372, 000.00 WORTH OF ASSORTED PRECIOUS METALS, ALL SEIZED FROM THREE SAFES AT ALDER GOLD EXCHANGE ON OCTOBER 29, 2012, in rem, Defendants.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney District of Oregon, KATHERINE C. LORENZ, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

DAVID H. ANGELI, BENJAMIN N. LOUEDE, Angeli Law Group LLC, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Claimant Michael Knezevich.

NORMAN SEPENUK, Portland, OR, Attorney for Claimant VanHaverbeke.

PAUL J. PASCHELKE, Portland, OR, Attorney for Claimant Barney.

RONALD V. CHOTT Beaverton, OR, Claimant, pro se.

MAUREEN ANNE & MICHAEL JOHN KLOBERTANZ Portland, OR, Claimants, pro se.

MOUNT HOOD MINISTRY c/o Scott D. Haanstad Hood River, OR, Claimant, pro se.

OPINION AND ORDER

MALCOLM F. MARSH, District Judge.

The United States of America brings this civil forfeiture proceeding pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 984; and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1345, 1355, 1356 and 1395. Currently before the court are the motions for summary judgment by Claimants Joe VanHaverbeke, Neal D. Barney, Maureen and Michael Klobertanz, and Mount Hood Ministry. For the reasons set forth below, claimants' motions are denied.

BACKGROUND

I. Seizure of Currency and Precious Metals

The government seeks the forfeiture of $166, 450.48 in U.S. Currency, $121, 000.00 in U.S. Currency, and approximately $372, 000.00 worth of assorted precious metals, on the basis that they were involved in transactions or attempted transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1960 (unlawful money transmitting business) by Michael Knezevich, the owner and operator of Alder Gold Exchange. In support of its complaint, the government relies on the declaration of Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Scott McGeachy.

According to Agent McGeachy, Knezevich was operating an unlicensed money transmitting business by buying and selling metals to and from customers, storing the customers' metals on site, keeping customers' cash on deposit, and writing checks or wiring money on behalf of his customers directly to third parties, including trusts, brokerage accounts, automobile dealerships, and credit card companies.

On October 29, 2012, agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit and the Portland Police Bureau seized the defendant currency and precious metals from three safes located at Alder Gold Exchange, and a Chase Bank account in the name of Precious Metals & Gems, dba Alder Gold Exchange. Agent McGeachy states that when the property was seized, Knezevich was unable to differentiate the contents of the three safes, explaining to officers that the metals located in the three safes ...


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