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UNITED STATES v. CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NO. 208-06070

March 31, 1994

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBERS 208-06070 AND 208-06068-1-2, IN THE NAMES OF OLYMPIA CONCEPCION AND CHRISTOPHER MATOS AT GRUNTAL & CO. AT 14 WALL STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK; CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBERS 29-3008339-5 AND 29-3009142-2, IN THE NAMES OF CHRISTOPHER MATOS AND OLYMPIA CONCEPCION AT EMIGRANT SAVINGS BANK AT 250 W. 23rd STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK; CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBER 4630016195, IN THE NAMES OF OLYMPIA CONCEPCION AND CHRISTOPHER MATOS AT CITIBANK, N.A., CITICORP AT COURT SQUARE, LONG ISLAND CITY, NEW YORK; CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBER 30-702215-5, IN THE NAMES OF CHRISTOPHER MATOS AND OLYMPIA CONCEPCION, AT PROVIDENCE SAVINGS AT 6050-A BURKE COMMONS ROAD, BURKE, VIRGINIA; CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBERS 70-33-071120, 70-33-00569781, AND 703320, IN THE NAMES OF CHRISTOPHER MATOS AND BARBARA MATOS AT DOMINION BANK AT 6259 LITTLE RIVER TURNPIKE, ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA; CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBERS 01055461 AND 40594831, IN THE NAMES OF CHRISTOPHER MATOS AND/OR BARBARA MATOS AT FIRST VIRGINIA BANK AT 6045-A BURKE CENTER PARKWAY, BURKE, VIRGINIA; CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBER 14-730-928, IN THE NAMES OF CHRISTOPHER MATOS AND/OR BARBARA MATOS AT RIGGS AT 6035 BURKE CENTER PARKWAY, BURKE, VIRGINIA; CONTENTS OF ACCOUNT NUMBER 1505042 IN THE NAMES OF CHRISTOPHER MATOS AND/OR BARBARA MATOS, AT RIGGS NATIONAL BANK OF WASHINGTON, D.C. AT 7th AVENUE AND EYE STREET, N.W., WASHINGTON, D.C.; ALL RIGHT, TITLE, AND INTEREST IN REAL PROPERTY KNOWN AS 12211 WYE OAK COMMON CIRCLE (UNIT 64), BURKE, VIRGINIA; ALL RIGHT, TITLE, AND INTEREST IN REAL PROPERTY KNOWN AS 1089 AVENUE K (UNIT 22), BROOKLYN, NEW YORK; ASSORTED JEWELRY VALUED AT $ 19,540.00; CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT # 7000143955, IN THE AMOUNT OF $ 2,000.00 AT FIRST VIRGINIA, 6400 ARLINGTON BLVD., FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA; CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT # 146028, IN THE AMOUNT OF $ 24,000.00 AT DOMINION BANK, 7711 PLANTATION ROAD, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA; CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT # 146029, IN THE AMOUNT OF $ 8,000.00 AT DOMINION BANK, 7711 PLANTATION ROAD, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA; AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVELERS CHEQUES TOTALLING $ 1,300.00; $ 750.00 IN UNITED STATES SAVINGS BONDS; $ 68,400.00 IN UNITED STATES CURRENCY, Defendants-in-rem.


CEDARBAUM


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MIRIAM GOLDMAN CEDARBAUM

CEDARBAUM, J.

 The government commenced this action, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981, seeking forfeiture of the contents of various bank accounts, certificates of deposit, U.S. currency, and certain real and personal property as property involved in money laundering transactions or as property traceable thereto. Christopher Matos, who is currently incarcerated, filed a Notice of Claim to all properties listed in the amended complaint. Barbara Matos, Matos' wife, and Olimpia Concepcion, his mother, also filed Notices of Claim. Pursuant to a Stipulation and Order signed February 18, 1993 and two Stipulations and Orders signed February 25, 1993, the claims of Barbara Matos and Olimpia Concepcion were settled and dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the government withdrew its amended complaint against all property except the contents of twelve of the bank accounts and certificates of deposit and $ 68,400 in U.S. currency.

 The government now moves for partial summary judgment against the contents of eight of the twelve accounts that remain in this action. With respect to six of the eight accounts, the government asserts that there is probable cause to believe that the contents of these accounts are forfeitable pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981 as property that was involved in money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956, or as property traceable thereto.

 With respect to the other two accounts, the government asserts that Matos, the only remaining claimant, lacks standing to challenge these forfeitures because the accounts are in his wife's name only, and he has not submitted an affidavit establishing his interest. In addition, the government argues that even if Matos could establish standing to challenge these last two accounts, the contents of one of these accounts is still subject to forfeiture as property traceable to property involved in money laundering transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956.

 For the reasons discussed below, the government's motion for partial summary judgment is granted against the contents of the six accounts as property involved in money laundering transactions, as well as against the contents of the seventh account, as property traceable to property involved in money laundering transactions. However, summary judgment is denied against the contents of the eighth account because there remains a genuine issue of material fact regarding Matos' standing to challenge this forfeiture.

 Background

 From October 1987 through December 31, 1989, Matos deposited the proceeds of this green card scheme in various bank accounts controlled by Matos, his wife, or by Matos, jointly with his wife or mother. (Williams Decl. P 8; Matos Plea at 15-16; Matos Dep. at 50, 54-57, 59-61, 64-66, 72-74, 77.) From 1986 through 1989, Matos maintained between seven and seventeen accounts at various banks and made numerous deposits of cash and cashiers checks, totalling at least $ 61,594 in 1986; $ 84,500 in 1987; $ 259,298.86 in 1988; and $ 116,257.77 in 1989. (Macchiaroli Aff. PP 6, 33.) The six accounts that the government contends contain property involved in money laundering transactions were opened in the years 1987, 1988 and 1989. (Id. PP 7, 10, 15, 19, 21, 24.)

 On December 12, 1990 Matos pleaded guilty to conspiring to accept bribes and issue fraudulent green cards in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 201(b)(2)(b) & 1028(a)(2). In addition, Matos pleaded guilty to engaging in money laundering transactions from October 1987 through December 31, 1989 in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(A)(ii) & (a)(1)(B)(i).

 The six accounts against which the government seeks summary judgment as property involved in money laundering transactions are as follows: Citibank, N.A. account number 4630016195, held in the names of Christopher Matos and Olimpia Concepcion, from which approximately $ 82,000.00 was seized (Macchiaroli Aff. P 7); Emigrant Savings Bank account number 29-3008339-5, held in the names of Cristobal Matos or Olimpia Concepcion, from which $ 11,240.80 was seized (Id. P 10); Emigrant Savings Bank account number 29-3009142-2, held in the names of Cristobal Matos or Olimpia Concepcion, from which $ 18,477.93 was seized (Id. P 15); Gruntal & Company account number 208-06070, held in the names of Christopher Matos and Olimpia Concepcion from which $ 47,672.00 was seized (Id. P 19); First Virginia Bank account number 01055461, held in the names of Christopher and Barbara Matos, from which $ 28,907.41 was seized (Id. P 21); and Riggs National Bank of Virginia account number 14-730-928, held in the names of Christopher and Barbara Matos, from which $ 37,639.05 was seized (Id. P 24) (hereinafter "the Six Accounts").

 The two accounts as to which the government contends Matos lacks standing to challenge forfeiture are: First Virginia Bank account number 40594831 ("First Virginia 31 Account"), held in the name of Barbara Matos, from which $ 36,020.95 was seized (Id. P 29); and First Virginia Bank account number 7000143955 ("First Virginia 55 Account"), held in the name of Barbara Matos, from which $ 2,983.64 was seized. (Id. P 27.) The government also argues that the contents of the First Virginia 31 Account are subject to summary judgment on the additional ground that they are traceable to property involved in money laundering transactions.

 During his sentencing proceedings, Matos, through his attorney, withdrew his request for a hearing to determine the exact amount of money involved in his money laundering offenses and agreed to a four-point enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines, which is appropriate when the amount of money involved exceeds $ 600,000. (Williams Aff. Ex. C, at 12.) However, in his Answer, Matos states that the forfeiture should be ...


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