A working student called someone in Florida with the hope of using $50,000 in his possession to become involved in the sale of a drug. Even if the negotiations were carried on through at least two telephone conversations and the student’s two trips to Florida in order to meet the person, the student asserted at the trial that no deal was completed. The reason is that the student was too scared.
Afterward, the student and two passengers in his car were arrested in Brooklyn and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, and reckless endangerment. Sources revealed that the arrest was prompted only after a chase by an unmarked police car. The student claims that the officers did not identify themselves as police and he was unaware who they were until a red flasher was placed atop the unmarked vehicle and the student’s car was blocked by a marked patrol car. He claims to have fled because he had his money in the trunk of the car and feared that the men in the unmarked car were going to rob him. The arresting officer, however, states that he identified himself as a police officer and ordered the student to stop his car, after which the student fled. There was no violence.
As the car came to a stop, thirteen glassine envelopes, later found to contain heroin, were thrown from its passenger window. The search of the vehicle revealed a trunk containing, among other things, $64,580 in cash.
The student stated that he did not purchase any drugs on the date in question, that he did not see the envelopes being thrown out the window, and that he first learned about a week later in court that thirteen glassine envelopes had been found. He further contends that since the drugs were thrown from the passenger window while he was driving, there is no indication that he possessed any drugs.
The opponent asserts, however, that the student knew there was heroin in his car and probably told one of his passengers to throw it out the window.
With respect to the confiscation of the money, the student argues that his conduct in the state must be sufficient to uphold a criminal conviction in the jurisdiction. He contends that his telephone conversations and meetings in Florida fail to constitute either an attempt to possess or sell drugs, a conspiracy to do so, or a solicitation of such crime. The opponent insists that the man’s conduct was sufficient to constitute the above crimes.
The student has admitted knowing that one of his passengers used heroin, that the other passenger could be assumed to be a heroin user and that on other occasions he had purchased drugs in the neighborhood where he was arrested.
Based on record, there is no question that the student pleaded guilty to the crime of reckless endangerment in connection with the car chase that leads to his arrest, in satisfaction of both reckless endangerment and drug charges. Although the opponent’s first and second counterclaims allege that the forfeiture is predicated upon drug-related offenses.
Furthermore, even as to the attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, the student’s testimony admits such attempt and no triable issue has been raised regarding the said crime.
The student asserted to identify the banks from which the money had been withdrawn, asserting that the source of the funds was an inheritance. On the motion for decision without trial, the opponent has failed to question the student’s credibility or offer an alternative theory as to the source of the funds. There is therefore no issue as to whether the money constituted proceeds from prior sales of drugs.
The student advances a two-sided argument with respect to his alleged use of the money in aid and furtherance of a crime. First, with respect to the unexecuted drug transaction in Florida, the student contends that his alleged conduct in New York was insufficient to constitute a crime in the state.
The opponent argues that the student’s acts did confer jurisdiction on New York over the alleged crimes.
Sources revealed that a review of the student’s statement reveals that his conduct in New York was sufficient to constitute a conspiracy. During his first conversation with the person, the student admits telling him that he had some money and was thinking about going down to purchase some drugs. At one point he claims to have told the person that he was afraid to complete a drug deal, while at another point he denied making such statement.
The student claims that the remainder of the conversation was that he just wanted to meet with him. By itself, the conversation does not clearly indicate the existence of an agreement. However, some time after this first telephone conversation, a meeting was held in Florida between the student and the person, at which an agreement was reached. The meeting was followed by further telephone conversations which the student claims were just to confirm the date of the next meeting in Florida. Thereafter the student returned with the money. The only reasonable view of the conduct is that, by confirming the date of the next meeting, what had until then been a tentative agreement now became a firm one. The process of agreement therefore took place in and was cemented by the conversations in New York.
Based on records, it is clear that an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy took place in New York. The overt act of a conspiracy signals the intent to move the project forward from talk to action. It merely provides corroboration of the existence of the agreement and indicates that the agreement has reached a point where it poses a sufficient threat to society to impose sanctions.
It has been held that the conversation may constitute an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy when the conversation takes a step toward execution of the conspiracy and is not simply a part of, or cementing, the agreement itself.
However, the student’s second trip, departing from New York to go to Florida with $50,000 in his knapsack, is conduct referable to the object of the conspiracy, and therefore constitutes the necessary overt act in the case.
Inasmuch as it has been determined that the student’s conduct in the state constituted conspiracy, it is unnecessary to consider whether or not it constituted a criminal solicitation.
In the case at bar, the student displayed the money to the person, an act demonstrating his desire and ability to consummate a large scale drug deal. Although the money did not contribute to the existence of the conspiracy, since the student and the person had already formed their agreement as previously discussed, it did contribute directly and materially to the object crime. There was consequently a sufficient nexus between the crime and the money to justify its forfeiture.
Consequently, the opponent’s motion in requesting a decision without trial is granted, as the student is not a proper claimant of either the vehicle or the money seized and the opponent is entitled to retain them. The student’s cross motion is denied, except insofar as he seeks return of that portion of the monies seized which exceed $50,000 and as to which the opponent has no argument.
If you are involved in a drug related crime and you wish to be legally represented, you can seek assistance from the Kings County Criminal Lawyer. You can also approach a Kings County Drug Crime Attorney or a Kings County Drug Possession Lawyer by simply visiting or calling Stephen Bilkis and Associates office for your inquiries.