United States v. Vogel, No. 17-1096 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
In 2007, Vogel loaned Catala, $8,500 during a trip to Las Vegas. When Catala did not repay the loan, Vogel sued him in a Rhode Island state court. In 2012, a state judge entered a judgment for $8,500, plus interest and costs. Efforts to collect the judgment proved fruitless. In 2016, federal authorities charged Catal with distributing oxycodone and marijuana, searched his home, and seized $14,792 in cash. The case was docketed in the District of Rhode Island. Catala pleaded guilty. The court determined that the cash represented the proceeds of the illegal drug dealings and was subject to forfeiture, 21 U.S.C. 853(a). Vogel filed a third-party petition, asserting a claim to the seized cash under 21 U.S.C. 853(n) and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.2(c). The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claim, ruling that Vogel had no legal right to the forfeited proceeds. As a matter of first impression, the court concluded that the government had priority. There is no suggestion that the forfeited cash came from any source other than the defendant's drug-trafficking activities, so the government's interest in the forfeited cash vested as soon as Catala began selling drugs and before any proceeds started to reach him.