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Court: Feds can seize half of house

ASSOCIATED PRESS | June 28, 2007

BRANFORD, Conn. -- A woman who claimed she was unaware that her husband was growing pot in the basement will get to keep her half of their house, while the government can seize her husband's share, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said in a ruling Wednesday that Harold Von Hofe must forfeit his interest in the home to the federal government. However, his wife, Kathleen, does not have to because she wasn't actively involved in her husband's marijuana cultivation.

"The record is devoid of any evidence indicating her use of drugs or her involvement in any criminal activity whatsoever," the appeals court wrote.

Von Hofe, who was a teacher at Branford High School, and his wife were charged in 2001 after police raided their home and found 65 marijuana plants, glass smoking pipes and other items associated with growing marijuana.

Harold Von Hofe pleaded guilty to manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance while Kathleen Von Hofe pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Both avoided prison time and received probation.

The Von Hofes' attorney, Jonathan J. Einhorn, said Kathleen Von Hofe could get a mortgage for the government's half-interest in her home.

As of Wednesday, the couple remained in the house, valued at $248,000.

They have lived in the home since 1979 and don't have a mortgage.


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