Drug Activity Could Result in Arizona Condominium Seizure

A couple purchased a condominium in Tempe three years ago for their son when he began attending Arizona State University. The condominium title is and always has been in the parents’ names and they always made the mortgage payments. The couple’s son was recently arrested for the possession of and the sale of marijuana, which he allegedly stored in the condominium. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has written the couple a letter saying that the federal government is entitled to seize the condominium. The couple has had discussions with their son in the past about using drugs however they had no idea that he was storing drugs in the condominium. The couple was eventually planning to retire in the condominium. Is the federal government entitled to seize the condominium?

If the couple can show that they were an “innocent owner,” i.e., they had no knowledge of their son’s illegal drug activities in the condominium, they should not lose the condominium. However, if they knew, the condominium was being used for the possession and sale of illegal drugs and they made no efforts to stop this illegal drug activity, they could lose the condominium. Therefore, they should contact an Arizona real estate law attorney to assist them in negotiations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prove that they are an “innocent owner.”

Note: Most mortgage lenders are also “innocent,” and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will generally honor a mortgage lender’s security interest in the seized “drug house.”


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