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The Don Alejo Incident; Innocent Owner Corporation

The Don Alejo Incident; Innocent Owner Corporation

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Published by NICKY ZAKZUK
This is what our Don Alejo federal case would have looked like had US Customs not cancelled the innocent owners' visas in 1988, the same year that Congress finally amended the civil forfeiture statutes to include an innocent owner provision.

Alejandro Zakzuk never had the authority Harry III had, indeed, he was left in charge because we were forced into exile by torture and death threats.
This is what our Don Alejo federal case would have looked like had US Customs not cancelled the innocent owners' visas in 1988, the same year that Congress finally amended the civil forfeiture statutes to include an innocent owner provision.

Alejandro Zakzuk never had the authority Harry III had, indeed, he was left in charge because we were forced into exile by torture and death threats.

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Published by: NICKY ZAKZUK on May 25, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/14/2009

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No. 91-1617United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. -965 F.2d 311
Argued Dec. 2, 1991.Decided June 2, 1992.Rehearingand Rehearing En Banc Denied Oct. 6, 1992
Steven Pray O'Connor, Asst. U.S. Atty. (argued), Madison,Wis., for plaintiff-appellee.Ralph A. Kalal (argued), Kalal & Habermehl, Madison, Wis.,for appellants.Before POSNER and MANION, Circuit Judges, andFAIRCHILD, Senior Circuit Judge.MANION, Circuit Judge.1Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7), the government filed acomplaint for forfeiture in rem against a parcel of landlocated in Oneida County, Wisconsin, alleging that theproperty had been used to facilitate a violation of Title II of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq.,punishable by more than one year's imprisonment.Modernaire Three, Inc. ("Modernaire"), owned the property infee simple and contested the forfeiture in district court. After Modernaire and the government filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court granted thegovernment's motion. Modernaire appeals claiming that the
 
district court improperly rejected its innocent owner defense.We reverse and remand for entry of summary judgment infavor of Modernaire.2The parties agree that this case presents no material issuesof fact. Since the legal issue presented focuses on theinnocent owner defense, the relevant facts concern theownership and operation of the res in this forfeiture action.3Incorporated in 1972, Modernaire owned the defendantproperty in a resort community in northern Wisconsin. Theproperty consists of a parcel of land and five buildings: atavern, a house, two cabins, and a garage. Only threeindividuals own stock in Modernaire. Harry R. Seymer, Jr.,and his wife, Dorothy B. Seymer, own two-thirds of theshares. Their son, Harry R. Seymer, III ("Harry III"), owns theremaining one-third. Harry and Dorothy Seymer provided theoriginal capital for Modernaire and for the purchase of thereal estate by selling a tavern they owned personally,contributing $25,000, mortgaging other property, andmortgaging the property purchased. Harry III made nocontribution to capitalize Modernaire or to purchase theproperty. Harry III's shares were a gift from his parents whowanted to provide their son with a start in life. Harry Seymer serves as president and Dorothy Seymer serves as vice-president of the corporation. Harry III served as corporatesecretary-treasurer at all times relevant to this appeal.
 
4From 1972 until the government seized the property in 1990,Harry III directed the day-to-day operations of the propertyand the tavern business. Between 1972 and 1977, Mr. andMrs. Seymer lived in Milwaukee and would visit the propertyon weekends to check on business and help Harry III withmaintenance, repairs and improvements. Before Modernairepurchased it, the property had been an auto court. Thebuildings had fallen into disrepair, so the Seymers wouldspend from Friday night through Sunday cleaning andrepairing the premises. In 1977, Mr. and Mrs. Seymer movedto property next to the defendant property. In spite of aphysical disability, Mr. Seymer visited the property dailyspending anywhere from a half hour to the whole day doingministerial and janitorial tasks. After being diagnosed with ananeurysm in 1979 at the age of 62, Mrs. Seymer was unableto participate in the day-to-day operations of the tavern butremained in touch with how it was run.5From the inception of Modernaire, Mr. and Mrs. Seymer attended informal monthly meetings and monitored HarryIII's management of the business. They did rely on Harry III,however, to relay relevant financial information to them.Harry III had full authority to handle tax and financial mattersand deal with vendors, government agencies, professionalsand third parties on behalf of Modernaire. In exchange for managing the property, Harry III and his wife (also anemployee of Modernaire) resided rent-free on the property

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