of material fact that would defeat a summary judgment motion. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).
Finally, defendant's "proportionality" argument is unavailing. The forfeiture statute is designed to deter narcotics violations by striking at the instruments of crime; it does not demand that the value of the property seized be proportional to the value of the property seized be proportional to the value of narcotics seized. See 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7); see also S. Rep. 225, reprinted in 1984 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News, at 3378. It is the use for crime, and not some dollar-for-dollar calculation, to which the law must look in a forfeiture case.
Defendant also argues that the affidavits submitted by the government are not consistent with each other and therefore cannot be deemed reliable. Like defendant, the Court is aware of some inconsistency in Sergeant Hickey's affidavits. These arise from the fact that Sergeant Hickey in one affidavit states that he personally spoke with the informant during the course of an ongoing investigation into narcotics activity at 3120 Banneker Drive, while in the other affidavit he states that the informant telephoned another police officer. Ultimately, however, this inconsistency is irrelevant to a determination of these motions.
The minor disparities between the affidavits do not create material issues of fact. Regardless of the source of the tip to the police, when the police acted on the tip and arrived at 3120 Banneker Drive, N.E., they found illegal narcotics and related paraphernalia. That is the material fact for the purposes of this case, and it stands unaffected by any small, unrelated disparities in plaintiff's proof.
Defendant's final argument challenges the nature of the proof put forth by the government. Specifically, defendant argues that the affidavits rely on statements of admitted drug users and thus depend on hearsay evidence that is inherently unreliable. Moreover, in an attempt to controvert this evidence, defendant has supplied an affidavit from Mr. Knox's common law wife that is intended to show that 3120 Banneker Street, N.W., was not used to ply the narcotics trade. The Court must reject these arguments.
The law clearly allows the government to use credible hearsay evidence to establish probable cause for civil forfeiture of property used to facilitate illegal narcotics transactions. See, e.g., United States v. One 56-Foot Motor Yacht Named the Tahuna, 702 F.2d 1276, 1283 (9th Cir. 1983); United States of America v. One 1974 Porsche 911-S, 682 F.2d at 286; see also, e.g., Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 57 L. Ed. 2d 667, 98 S. Ct. 2674 (1978). The hearsay evidence on which the government relies in this case is inherently credible. That evidence -- statements about drug purchases and use -- amounts to admissions made to police officers that the declarants had committed a crime. Such admissions against penal interest are deemed credible hearsay for the purpose of establishing probable cause. E.g., United States v. Bruner, 212 U.S. App. D.C. 36, 657 F.2d 1278, 1297 (D.C. Cir. 1981); United States v. Davis, 199 U.S. App. D.C. 95, 617 F.2d 677, 693 (D.C. Cir. 1979), cert. denied sub nom. Gelestino v. United States, 445 U.S. 967, 64 L. Ed. 2d 244, 100 S. Ct. 1659 (1980).
The affidavit from the claimant's common-law wife offers defendant no more comfort. Ms. Deborah Tibbs avers that she has never observed Mr. Knox selling narcotics at the defendant property. Tibbs Affidavit, para. 4. But she also avers that she resided at the defendant property only "from 1982 to June 30, 1987." Id. at para. 1. As the events giving rise to this action occurred on July 6, 1987." Id. at para. 1. As the events giving rise to this action occurred on July 6, 1987 -- a week after Ms. Tibbs moved out of the property -- Ms. Tibbs has not controverted plaintiff's evidence: she has said nothing about the use made of the property at the time in question.
In short, the government has met its burden and has established probable cause to believe that 3120 Banneker Drive, N.E., was used to facilitate commission of a narcotics offense. The claimant to this property has not overcome that showing. Nor has he established a genuine dispute of material fact. Accordingly, the Court will, in an Order accompanying this Opinion, grant plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and it will deny defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Through the civil forfeiture statutes, Congress has expanded the nation's war on drugs to every physical object involved in the narcotics trade. Under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7), the government may seek forfeiture of real property that was used in connection with a drug deal. As plaintiff has put forth undisputed evidence that establishes probable cause for finding that 3120 Banneker Drive, N.E., Washington, D.C., was used to facilitate illegal narcotics transactions, and as defendant has not overcome this showing, the Court must grant summary judgment in plaintiff's favor. Accordingly, in a separate Order that will accompany this Opinion, the Court will Order 3120 Banneker Drive, N.E., Washington, D.C., forfeited to the United States of America.
ORDER - August 12, 1988, Filed
In accordance with the Opinion in the above-captioned case, issued of even date herewith, and for the reasons set forth therein, it is this 12 day of August, 1988,
ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment shall be, and hereby is, granted; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be, and hereby is, denied; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the defendant property shall be, and hereby is, forfeited to the United States of America, to be disposed of in accordance with law.