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U.S. v. FUNDS FROM PRUDENTIAL SECURITIES

June 18, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
V.
FUNDS FROM PRUDENTIAL SECURITIES ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE; GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR A DEFAULT JUDGMENT; GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR A DECREE OF FORFEITURE

I. INTRODUCTION

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

In February 1999, a joint task force including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development initiated an investigation of a large heroin trafficking organization run principally by Mr. Earl Garner, Sr.,*fn1 the claimant's significant other. Compl. at 4, 6. The investigation allegedly revealed that the claimant assisted Mr. Garner in various aspects of his drug trafficking. Id. at 6. Court-authorized telephone monitoring of several members of the drug trafficking organization allegedly shows that the claimant, in addition to serving as Mr. Garner's confidant and advisor, stored contraband and/or drug proceeds at her residence in North Bethesda, Maryland. Id. Despite these allegations, and after considering the evidence against the claimant, the jury returned its verdict acquitting the claimant of the charge against her.*fn2

B. Procedural History

On December 21, 2000, the plaintiff filed a verified complaint for civil forfeiture in rem against the claimant's bank account funds and money order totaling $41,091.86.*fn3 The plaintiff alleges that the funds constitute proceeds traceable to violations of Title II of the Controlled Substances Act, as amended, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq., and the anti-money laundering provisions under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1956. Pl.'s Mot. to Treat as Conceded at 2.

On January 25, 2001, the claimant responded to the verified complaint for forfeiture in rem. Id. at 3. According to the plaintiff, however, the claimant filed an unverified claim that fails to state her interest in the $41,091.86 of funds as is required by Rule C(6) of the Supplemental Rules of Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims ("Supplemental Rules"). Id.; FED. R.CIV.P. C(6). Additionally, the claimant failed to file an answer on or before the February 14, 2001 deadline. Pl.'s Opp'n to Claimant's Mot. to Late File Answer and Mot. to Strike ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at 3, Ex. IV; Pl.'s Mot. to Treat as Conceded at 2. On March 5, 2001, the plaintiff sent a letter to the claimant and an attorney representing her in the related criminal matter. Pl.'s Mot. to Treat as Conceded at 3. The plaintiffs letter stated that the claim was defective and the time for filing an answer on February 14, 2001 had passed. Id.

In the March 5, 2001 letter, the plaintiff gave its consent for the claimant to have two additional weeks to file an answer, thereby extending the filing deadline to March 19, 2001. Id. The attorney representing the claimant in the related criminal matter responded to the March 5, 2001 letter, stating in a March 16, 2001 facsimile that he did not represent the claimant in the civil forfeiture matter at bar. Pl.'s Opp'n at 4, Ex. VII.

On April 27, 2001, the claimant, "on behalf of herself," filed an amended verified claim, a motion and incorporated memorandum to late-file an answer to the complaint, an answer, and a jury demand. Answer at 1. On May 1, 2001, the plaintiff filed an opposition to the claimant's motion to late-file her answer and a motion to strike the claimant's claim. According to the plaintiff, any opposition by the claimant to the plaintiffs motion to strike was due on or before May 21, 2001. Pl.'s Mot. to Treat as Conceded at 3. Consequently, on June 25, 2001, the plaintiff filed a motion to treat as conceded its motion to strike the claimant's claim, request for a default judgment, and a decree of forfeiture.*fn4

Through the claimant's alleged failure to provide an answer to the plaintiffs motion to strike, the plaintiff asks this court to do the following: (1) treat its motion to strike the claimant's claim as conceded; (2) order default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, and; (3) enter a decree of ...


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