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Ladele v. United States

February 2, 2010

ADEYINKA LADELE, MOVANT,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margaret M. Morrow United States District Judge

ORDER REGARDING MOVANT'S MOTION FOR RETURN OF PROPERTY

On April 15, 2008, pro se movant Adeyinka Ladele filed this action against the United States of America, seeking the return of property seized at the time of his arrest. The government filed opposition to the motion on July 28, 2008. Ladele did not file a reply.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Ladele's Indictment, Plea Agreement, Sentencing And Restitution Order

On February 17, 2006, following an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service ("USPIS"), a federal grand jury returned a fourteen count indictment against Ladele.*fn1

The indictment charged Ladele with bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1), aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1), and access device fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2).*fn2 The indictment alleged that Ladele had defrauded various banks by stealing credit cards issued to identity theft victims, obtaining fraudulent driver's licenses, and presenting the credit cards and driver's licenses to the banks to induce them to advance cash on the stolen credit cards.*fn3

On March 7, 2006, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Ladele's Playa Vista residence and seized items for possible use as evidence, including social security cards, driver licenses, credit cards and mail in the names of persons other than Ladele. According to the USPIS search warrant inventory, the officers also seized the following items: (1) one "Sony Bravia"; (2) one "Sony TV Flat 30""; (3) one "[g]ent's Movado watch"; (4) one "[g]ent's Tag Heuer watch"; (5) one pair of "[d]iamond earrings 14k gold"; and (6) one "[g]ent's [g]old Tag Heuer watch."*fn4

On June 29, 2006, a plea agreement was filed, pursuant to which Ladele agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of identity theft. On October 23, 2006, Ladele was sentenced to 57 months in custody and ordered to pay $106,580.30 in restitution to five victims. Of this amount, $70,000 was due within six months of his sentencing.*fn5 Ladele failed to pay $70,000 by the six-month deadline, and as of July 10, 2008, had not paid $98,898.50 of his $106,580.30 restitution obligation.*fn6

The judgment and commitment order for Ladele was filed on November 1, 2006; pursuant to Rule 4(b)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, his time to appeal the judgment expired on November 10, 2006.*fn7 See FED.R.APP.PROC. 4(b)(1)(A) (a defendant's notice of appeal must be filed within 10 days after the later entry of judgment or the filing of the government's notice of appeal).

B. Allegations In Ladele's Motion

Ladele seeks the return of property allegedly seized at the time of his arrest. Specifically, he requests the return of seven items described as follows: (1) "two diamond earring[s]"; (2) one "[M]ovado tone watch"; (3) one "[T]ag [Heuer] watch"; (4) one "18 kt yellow gold bracelet"; (5) one "[S]ony cell phone"; (6) one "30 inch [S]ony 'xbr' flat screen tv"; and (7) one "[T]ag [Heuer] gold watch with anim[al] skin band."*fn8 Of these items, five, i.e., the earring, the three watches, and the 30 inch flatscreen television, overlap with the list of items seized by the officers. Ladele contends that the property is no longer needed as evidence since the criminal case against him is closed and that, as a result, he has the right to the return of his property. He requests that the court order the government to return all seven allegedly seized items.*fn9

C. Evidence Adduced in the Government's Opposition

1. The USPIS Administrative Proceedings Regarding Ladele

The government admits the seized property was no longer needed as evidence as of November 10, 2007, when Ladele's time to appeal expired.*fn10 On December 1, 2006, however, one month after the November 1, 2006 judgment was entered, the USPIS initiated proceedings pursuant to 39 C.F.R. Part 946 as to the seized property.*fn11 On December 1, 2006 the USPIS sent letters, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Ladele at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles where he was incarcerated; to his Playa Vista residence; to an address in Los Angeles; and to his attorney in the criminal case. The letters stated that the USPIS was initiating administrative foreclosure proceedings.*fn12 They contained a claim form Ladele was required to complete, sign, and submit to the USPIS by January 1, 2007, in order to make a claim to the seized property. The letters advised Ladele that if he did not submit a claim by that date, title to the ...


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