Video: Josh Forrest on Lamar Jackson
The federal government is seeking to take $8,000 from a former University of Kentucky football player because the money was allegedly tied to drug trafficking.
Postal inspectors found the money in a priority mail package Josh Forrest mailed from Lexington to an address in Renton, Wash., according to a sworn statement from Darren Hess, an officer with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Forrest told authorities the money was to pay the costs of moving back to Lexington from the Seattle area, where he had played for the Seattle Seahawks, Hess said in his affidavit.
Forrest provided proof of his claim that included moving-company receipts, storage-unit statements and statements on moving furniture, Hess said.
However, the office of U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. filed a complaint Tuesday seeking a warrant for the money and an order to forfeit the cash to the federal government.
The money “was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for controlled substances, is proceeds traceable to such an exchange, or was intended to be used to facilitate the illegal sale of narcotics . . .,” according to the federal complaint filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rajbir Datta.
The case is against the money, not Forrest. He has not been charged, and has not yet filed a response in court.
Forrest did file a claim with the postal service seeking the return of the money, Hess said in his statement.
Forrest could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The U.S. Marshals Service is holding the money.
The case started Feb. 11 when postal inspectors pulled a priority mail express parcel from the mail at a Lexington postal station.
The package listed Forrest on the return address, and was to a person in Renton, Wash., the home of the Seahawks.
The package raised suspicion for several reasons, including that it listed a return address in Paducah with Forrest’s name, but was sent from Lexington, Hess said.
That is one method drug traffickers use to avoid detection, Hess said.
The package also didn’t have a name on the box requiring someone to sign for it. That can allow delivery without being accepted by someone who might be under investigation, Hess said.
Hess said there was a telephone number for Forrest on the package. He called and Forrest gave him permission to open it, Hess said.
Before opening it, he had a Lexington officer use his drug dog to sniff the package and several others, and the dog indicated the presence of drugs on the package, Hess said.
Hess said the mail package contained cash in a vacuum-sealed bag, wrapped in a paper towel inside another vacuum-sealed bag, inside an envelope.
About half of it was in $20 bills.
“Narcotics traffickers are known to use low denomination bills to conduct their business,” Hess said in his affidavit.
Forrest said Hess told him on Feb. 11 that he was sending the money to someone he knew in Washington to give to a leasing company to cover apartment rent.
Forrest told a postal analyst that he lived at a temporary address in Lexington, but that the Paducah address was a permanent one.
Forrest said he used to live across the street from the man listed as the recipient of the package in Washington, Hess said.
Postal employees in Renton, Wash., later confirmed the person Forrest sent the money to gets mail at the address on the package, but also said the address Forrest gave for his apartment on the same street didn’t exist, Hess said in his statement.
Forrest also told an analyst in March that the $8,000 was to pay for moving expenses, not apartment rent, Hess said.
Forrest told the analyst he packaged the money as he did based in part on instructions he received from a postal employee after the post office seized a package addressed to him containing $11,275 inside plastic bags inside used shoes in a shoebox.
Forrest said then that he’d sent the money to his sister to get a better place to live, but that her plans changed and she sent it back to him.
The post office returned the money in that case, Hess said.
Forrest was a top player in high school at Tilghman in Paducah before coming to UK in 2011, starting as a receiver but switching to defense.
He played in all 12 games as a sophomore and led the team in tackles as a junior in 2014 with 110 stops, according to the UK media guide.
The guide said Forrest completed a degree in community and leadership development.
He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the sixth round of the 2016 draft and played for the Rams and Seahawks. He is now a free agent.