The court held that the administrator's action was arbitrary and capricious. Id. at 31. The court stated that the agency must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action. Id. The reviewing court must consider whether the agency's decision was based on relevant factors and whether there was a clear error of judgment. Id.
The DEA acted arbitrarily and capriciously because they misdirected Moskovits' mail. The misdirected mail limited Moskovits' attempt to comply with the DEA's request. The DEA initially claimed that Moskovits' petition was late because the December 27, 1988 letter was received by an unknown person on December 31, 1988, thus, the deadline expired on January 15, 1989. However, Moskovits did not receive the December 27, 1988 letter until January 6, 1989. In any event, counting 15 days from his receipt, he timely tendered his reply when he gave it to prison authorities to mail.
Any delay in Moskovits' letter to the DEA is partly, the DEA's responsibility. According to State Farm, the court must consider whether the DEA's action was based on relevant factors and whether there was an error in judgment. Id. Arguably, the reason for the 15 day limit is relevant to assure a speedy resolution of the matter. However, Moskovits should not be penalized for the DEA's error or for the delay in mailing once he tendered the letter to the prison authorities. Clearly, the DEA inhibited Moskovits' attempt to meet the 15 day deadline. The DEA did not offer any explanation for their error, nor can they reasonably argue that Moskovits did not meet the deadline.
21 C.F.R. sec. 1316.76(b) (1984) states in part that the filing of a claim and the posting of a bond does not entitle the claimant to possession of the property, however, it does stop the administrative forfeiture proceedings. This court holds that the DEA received a valid affidavit to proceed in forma pauperis in lieu of a cost bond when Moskovits delivered the affidavit to the prison authorities for mailing. At this point, under 21 C.F.R. sec. 1316.76(b) (1984) the DEA was prohibited from administratively forfeiting the $ 85,000.
21 C.F.R. sec. 1316.78 (1984) states in part, "If a claim and satisfactory bond have been received for property . . . the DEA Asset Forfeiture Unit shall transmit a description of the property and a complete statement of facts and circumstances surrounding the seizure to the United States Attorney for the judicial district in which the proceeding for forfeiture is sought for the purpose of instituting condemnation proceedings".
Once the DEA received Moskovits' affidavit, under 21 C.F.R. sec. 1316.78 (1984), the DEA was required to transmit the relevant information to the United States Attorney for the judicial district which the proceeding for forfeiture is sought. Therefore, the DEA's treatment of Moskovits' March 2, 1989 letter as a petition for remission or mitigation of forfeiture was inappropriate. The March 2, 1989 letter should have been forwarded to the United States Attorney for the judicial district in which the proceeding for forfeiture is sought. Furthermore, under 21 C.F.R. sec. 1316.81 (1984), the DEA is required to inform Moskovits of the transfer to the United States Attorney for the judicial district which the proceeding for forfeiture is sought.
Therefore, this court will grant the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The DEA will be enjoined from administratively forfeiting Moskovits' $ 85,000 under 21 C.F.R. sec. 1316.76(b) (1984). Furthermore, the DEA will be ordered to forward all the paperwork to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida where the property was seized pursuant to 21 C.F.R. sec. 1316.78 to institute a judicial condemnation proceeding.
A separate order shall issue this date.
ORDER AND JUDGMENT - June 26, 1991, Filed
This case comes before the court on plaintiff's Motion for an Injunction, plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, and defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
Upon consideration of all the filings and the evidentiary record submitted in support of and in opposition to the motions, and for the reasons set forth in an accompanying Memorandum Opinion, it is hereby
ORDERED, that the motion of defendant David Barkett to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is GRANTED, and defendant Barkett is hereby DISMISSED, and it is further
ORDERED, that the court, liberally construing plaintiff's pro se complaint for injunctive relief, hereby substitutes, sua sponte, the Chief, Asset Forfeiture Unit, Drug Enforcement Administration, as defendant, in place of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and hereby DENIES the motion to dismiss filed by DEA, which is construed as a motion to dismiss the substituted defendant, and it is further
ORDERED, that the plaintiff's motions for summary judgment and for an injunction against the Chief, Asset Forfeiture Unit, Drug Enforcement Administration, are GRANTED. Judgment is hereby entered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant, Chief, Asset Forfeiture Unit, Drug Enforcement Administration. The defendant is enjoined from administratively forfeiting the $ 85,000 proceeds from the sale of the 1985 Ferrari Testarossa and ordered to forward all paperwork to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida for the institution of judicial condemnation proceedings in the ordinary mode prescribed by law.
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