Sheriff Martin fighting to keep home

Former Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond M. Martin is challenging a federal judge’s ruling ordering him to forfeit his $300,000 home and thousands of dollars seized as a part of his conviction for dealing marijuana.  Martin is currently at the federal penitentiary in Atwater, Calif., where he is serving a life sentence on convictions of marijuana dealing, witness tampering and attempting to hide financial assets from federal investigators.  In a hand written motion filed on July 1, Martin challenges the federal government’s assertion that he used his home in Junction, Ill., to deal drugs.

“Reference to property and residence: I do [not] believe the house was used in the distribution of marijuana. They was never any at the residence, nor was there any dealings at residence,” Martin wrote in his pleading.  Regarding more than $107,000 in cash seized from a basement safe at his home, Martin claims the money was not related to drug trafficking, and should be released to his children for school and medical expenses.  “Money in the safe: When Kristina [Martin’s wife] would work for courthouse as victim advocate, she would have me cash her check and put all of it in safe. Other money in safe was from working in watermelon sales, mowing yards and guarding combine. That money should go to the kids or Tina,” Martin wrote.

At his trial, authorities showed that more than $2,600 of the cash was in marked government money used in undercover drug purchases.  Martin’s ex-wife, Kristina is also challenging the government’s forfeiture of the house on Sawmill Road in Junction, claiming it was awarded to her in a divorce proceeding filed in White County on Dec. 20, 2010.  Federal officials filed a response to the challenge, alleging she has no standing in the forfeiture matter because she had no legal interest in the property before May 29, 2009 when federal prosecutors first filed a notice of intent to seize the property.

Records show that Raymond Martin was the sole owner of the home and never added his wife’s name to the property deed.  Martin actually confirmed the government’s ownership assertion in his own filing. “She asked me to put her name on deed but I did not at the time because I was afraid she would leave me and ask or file against the house,” Martin wrote. “She asked on more than one occasion to put her name on deed, but I was overbearing and to keep from arguing, she would let it go.”

Federal prosecutors have asked that the preliminary forfeiture order issued in the case at the time of Martin’s sentencing in January be made permanent and deny Martin and his wife’s challenge to the order.  Martin has been in custody since his arrest in May 2009. Now 48, he is serving two life sentences plus 10 years in federal prison.

via : Courier Press

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