Marrocco v. Funds in the Amount of One Hundred Thousand, One Hundred Twenty Dollars., No. 11-3706 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Fallon purchased a one‐way train ticket from Chicago to Seattle, causing DEA Agent Romano to suspect that Fallon might be a drug courier. Romano approached Fallon, who provided identification with an out-of-date address and stated that he was unemployed and was going to visit a friend. Fallon refused to provide a current address; Romano noticed that Fallon was sweating and trembling. Fallon allowed a search of his duffle, but declined to permit agents to open a locked brief case, stating that it contained $50,000 and that he intended to purchase a house. Romano directed Fallon to exit the train. While waiting for a drug‐detection dog, Romano pried the briefcase open, and observed that it contained currency. Fallon then claimed that the currency belonged to a third person to be used for investment. The dog alerted to the briefcase, which contained $100,120. The government initiated civil forfeiture and the owner of the Funds, Marrocco, filed a claim. Marrocco, who was not charged with any crime connected, moved to quash the seizure, arguing that it was the fruit of an illegal search. The district court held that the agents lacked probable cause to open the case. The Seventh Circuit reversed, based on the inevitable discovery doctrine. Ultimately, the district court entered summary judgment, holding that the currency was either the proceeds of an illegal drug transaction, or was intended to facilitate such a transaction. The Seventh Circuit reversed. Marrocco’s testimony, recounting his employment history and relatively expense‐free living, created a dispute of material fact regarding whether the Funds could have been Marrocco’s legally-acquired life savings. There was also expert evidence challenging whether the dog’s alert demonstrates that the Funds recently were in contact with illegal drugs.