Outlaws member denied motorcycle club’s seized property

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A member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club who wanted to intervene in a forfeiture action involving paraphernalia bearing the Outlaws insignia couldn’t convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that a federal court was incorrect in denying his motions.

The FBI with search warrants raided the Outlaws’ clubhouses in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne in 2012 and seized numerous items bearing the Outlaws name, such as vests, flags, and signs. All members of the Indianapolis chapter were criminally charged, including Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations charges. All but one pleaded guilty, and as part of the plea agreements, each agreed to forfeit the Outlaws paraphernalia seized by the FBI.

Bradley W. Carlson tried to intervene while the government was in the process of finalizing the forfeiture with the last Outlaws defendant. The government sought to dismiss the motion as untimely as the final forfeiture orders had already been issued. Carlson contended that he had a property interest in all of the paraphernalia and the government failed to provide him with direct notice of the forfeiture actions. He claimed that he had been elected by the collective membership of the club to protect, manage and oversee all memorabilia of the Outlaws, and that the property is not owned by the individuals but collectively by the members.

The government provided notices to all of the defendants and also posted notice of the forfeitures on the official government forfeiture site for 30 days.

The district court denied Carlson’s motion as well as his motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Federal Civil Procedure Rule 59(e).

“Although he has alleged an understanding that property cannot be transferred to non-members, he does not identify what type of interest, if any, in that property was retained by the Outlaws –whether an option to purchase back, a right of first refusal, a termination of bailment or least, etc. – and whether that interest is a legal interest that grants standing or an equitable or other interest that does not,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote. “He fails in fact to cite to Indiana law at all to establish the legal interest in the property despite recognizing that property interests are defined by state law.”

The judges also rejected Carlson’s request that the court hold in a criminal forfeiture, an assertion of ownership, without more, is sufficient to alert the government that he has a property interest in the items as against those who were in possession of the items and conceded their forfeiture.

“Carlson has failed to identify the origin of the items or allege the Outlaws relationship at its inception, and the district court properly held that Carlson was not entitled to individualized notice,” she wrote in United States of America v. Joshua N. Bowser, et al.; appeal of: Bradley W. Carlson, 15-2258.

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