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Name: U.S. v. $109,179 in U.S. Currency
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/02/2000
Subsequent History: None

Maggio appealed the forfeiture of $109,179 in currency on Fourth Amendment grounds, challenging the actions of police which led to the discovery of the currency. Police had been called when two maids discovered blood splatters and a white powdery substance in a room they were cleaning. When Maggio knocked on the door of the room in which the drugs and cash had been found, police detained him. He claimed he had no identification, and gave some contradictory answers to questions. Police conducted a pat-down search for weapons and felt a large metallic bulge in Maggio’s pocket. Officers found keys to a Porsche, and subsequently looked into the only Porsche in the parking lot. They observed a sizeable amount of money “bulging from an open pocket” in a camera bag on the front seat. Police returned to question Maggio, and Maggio admitted that the Porsche was his, and that it contained large quantities of cocaine and money. He was arrested, and he consented to the search of his vehicle. Maggio denied ownership of two locked briefcases found in the vehicle. Search warrants were obtained for the briefcases. Officers found over $100,000 more in cash and a half kilo of cocaine. In state court proceedings, Maggio successfully argued that the police had seized the cash in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The United States then commenced forfeiture proceedings. Maggio here appealed from the denial of his motion to suppress the currency in that proceeding. The appellate court here affirmed. The initial stop and detention of Maggio was justified because police had probable cause to believe that he was connected to the evidence which had been found within the room. There was reasonable cause to believe that he might be armed and involved in narcotics activity, so the twenty minute detention was not unreasonable. The patdown search was lawful because the officer had to protect his own safety. Maggio had a minimal expectation of privacy in the lock of his car door, so it was reasonable for the officer to put the Porsche key into the lock to help determine Maggio’s identity. Accordingly, there was no Fourth Amendment violation.