The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR SPATT, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
Manuel Concepcion ("Concepcion" or the "petitioner"), proceeding
pro se, commenced these actions seeking the return of a 1988
Cadillac Seville ("Cadillac") that was seized and administratively
forfeited by the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA"). The United
States of America ("Government" or the "respondent") moves for
summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure ("Fed.R. Civ. P.") to dismiss these actions. For the reasons
set forth below, the Government's motion is granted.
The facts set forth in respondent's Rule 56.1 statement are deemed
admitted when no opposition has been filed. LeSane v. Hall's Sec.
Analyst, Inc., 239 F.3d 206, 211 (2d Cir. 2001). Given that
Concepcion has failed to oppose the motion for summary judgment, the
Government's Rule 56.1 statement is taken as true for the purposes of
this motion and recites the following facts.
A. The Petitioner's Purchase of the Cadillac
Between September 1988 until his arrested in March 1989, the petitioner
was a leader of a Brooklyn-based wholesale and retail narcotics
trafficking organization known as the "Unknown Organization" (the
"Organization"). At its peak, the Organization received gross income from
heroin sales totaling more than $10 million a month.
An investigation by the DEA revealed that Concepcion purchased a
Cadillac with narcotics proceeds. In particular, law enforcement agents
learned that, on or about October 10, 1988, Concepcion and three or four
other men visited Dick Gidron Cadillac, Inc., a car dealership located in
the Bronx. After being at the car dealership for approximately thirty
minutes, Concepcion purchased the Cadillac. He agreed to trade his
Ford Mustang Convertible, which was valued at an amount of $15,000, and
to pay the sum of $16,509. The petitioner informed the car dealer that he
wanted the name "Ralph Carreras" on the purchase agreement for insurance
purposes and to match the registered name of the license plates of his
Ford Mustang Convertible. The petitioner further informed the car dealer
that he went by the names Manny Soto and Ralph Carreras. Concepcion left
a deposit of $1,159 in cash. On October 11, 1988, the petitioner returned
to the car dealership to pick up the Cadillac and to pay the remaining
balance of $15,000 in cash.
B. The March 14, 1989 Drug Transaction
In March 1989, Concepcion and other members of the Organization planned
to purchase approximately 7 1/2 kilograms of pure heroin from a
government informant who was posing as a supplier. On March 10, 1989, the
informant negotiated the sale of heroin worth a sum of $1,350,000 with
Marc Ramirez, a drug broker. The heroin was to be packaged in fifteen
units of seven hundred grams a piece. After several telephone calls,
Ramirez told the informant that his people could only pay for ten units
worth the sum of $990,000.
On March 14, 1989, Ramirez advised the informant that he was meeting
with his money people at the Georgia Diner located in Queens. That day,
law enforcement agents observed Concepcion, Ramirez, Robert Aponte, Juan
Rivera, Adam Pomales, Ricardo
Castor, and Feliz Aponte meeting and talking near the George Diner.
At this meeting, Ramirez spoke with the informant over the telephone and
arranged to exchange heroin for cash later that day at another diner, the
Buccaneer in Queens. Concepcion, his associates, and Ramirez drove to the
Buccaneer in separate vehicles. The petitioner, Robert Aponte and Ramirez
drove a Ford Van. Rivera and Pomales followed the Ford Van in the
Cadillac. Castro and Feliz Aponte followed the Cadillac in a Honda which
broke down and never reached the Buccaneer.
At the Buccaneer, Ramirez spoke with the informant and then left to
speak with the petitioner, Robert Aponte, Rivera, and Pomales, at which
time the informant left the diner and crossed the street. The petitioner,
Ramirez, and Robert Aponte took four boxes and one black bag, which
contained a total of $990,000, from the Ford Van and placed them in the
informant's vehicle. While the money was being transferred, Rivera and
Pomales remained in the Cadillac which was parked near the Ford Van.
Ramirez then followed the informant to a vehicle two blocks away, where
the informant gave Ramirez ten units of purported heroin. Government
agents interrupted the transaction, arrested Concepcion, Ramirez, Robert
Aponte, Feliz Aponte, Pomales, and Rivera, and seized three weapons from
the trunk of the Cadillac. Following the arrest, the government agents
seized other items of property, including the Cadillac.
C. The Petitioner's Indictment and Conviction
In September 1989, approximately 39 individuals were indicted in the
matter United States v. Melendez, 89 CR 229. On August 28,
1990, superseding indictments were filed charging various defendants with
narcotics distribution and conspiracy, racketeering, murder, and
kidnaping in furtherance of racketeering activity and money ...