Will Highlands pot house be forefeited?

Both state and federal laws allow courts to authorize the forfeiture of property obtained with profits from the sale of drugs. Cash is involved most often. Anytime the police make a major drug bust, piles of money are often seized. With the defendant more concerned with minimizing jail time than litigating the source of the money, the forfeiture proceedings are typically a formality. In a state forfeiture proceeding, it’s my understanding that half the amount seized goes to the District Attorney’s office and the other half goes to the local police department where it becomes part of the “Law Enforcement Trust Fund” which is used in a variety of ways. But cash is not the only thing seized. Automobiles are a frequent target and through the years at the registry of deeds we’ve seen several Orders of Forfeiture issued by the US District Court for real estate.

With the surprising revelation that a house in my upper Highlands neighborhood was being used to grow prodigious quantities of marijuana, I began wondering whether the US Marshal’s service might at some point join ERA, Century 21, and Jim Cooney in conducting weekend open houses this spring. To assess the likelihood of foreclosure proceedings against the property in question (40 St Paul St), I did a quick search on the registry of deeds website, www.lowelldeeds.com. The defendant, Mr. Angel Luna, purchased the property in July 2007 for $240,000. He financed his purchase with a mortgage from First Magnus Financial Corp of Tuscon, Arizona (a regular lender around here) for – – – you guessed it, $240,000.

I suppose this episode gives us another argument against 100% financing of real estate purchases – when you have some of your own savings invested in your home, you’re less likely to use it as the site of illegal activity.