The opinion of the court was delivered by: URBINA
Denying Claimant's Motion to Dismiss; Granting Plaintiff's Motion to Strike and Denying Claimant's Motion for the Return of the Defendant Property
After careful consideration of the parties' submissions and the entire record herein, the court concludes the following: claimant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Verified Complaint shall be denied as this court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action; Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the Answer of Sherrie Stewart (Claimant) shall be granted as claimant has not complied with the strict requirements of Rule C(6) of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims; and claimant's motion for the return of the defendant-property shall be denied as the government did not unreasonably delay the initiation of the instant case.
Finally, the court will not permit the untimely filing of the verified claim as the claimant did not adhere to the requirements of Rule C(6), and no mitigating factors are present that would justify noncompliance on the part of the claimant.
On June 19, 1995, plaintiff (United States) brought this in rem civil forfeiture action, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6), against the defendant property, $ 88,260,00 in U.S. currency. The government alleges that the defendant-property was proceeds traceable to an exchange in violation of Title II of the Controlled Substances Act, in particular 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846.
On the same day, the government issued a warrant of arrest in rem for defendant property. The claimant in this case has been represented by counsel since the incipiency of the present litigation. On June 24, 1995, claimant and her counsel were advised of the necessity of filling a verified claim pursuant to Supplemental Rule C(6) of the Supplemental Rules of Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. On July 6, 1995, claimant filed an answer to the government's complaint in rem. On July 26, 1995, the government filed a Motion to Strike the Answer of Sherrie Stewart basing its argument on the fact that claimant failed to file a verified claim as required by Rule C(6) of the Supplemental Rules of Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. On August 8, 1995, claimant, instead of seeking leave of court to file a verified claim as required by Rule C(6) responded with a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Verified Complaint asserting that this court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the present action.
A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Claimant argues that 19 U.S.C. § 1610 governs this case and therefore, this court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the government's verified complaint. The government, on the other hand, states that 28 U.S.C. § 1355 is the appropriate governing statute for this matter. Jurisdiction in forfeiture cases is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1355 which states, in pertinent part that,
The district courts shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the states, of any action or proceeding for the recovery or enforcement of any fine, penalty, or forfeiture, pecuniary or otherwise...
A forfeiture action or proceeding may be brought in --
(A) the district court for the district in which any of the acts or omissions giving rise to the forfeiture action occurred, or
(B) any other district where venue for the forfeiture action or proceeding is specifically provided for in section 1395 of ...