United States of America v. One 2010 Aston Martin, VIN #SCFFBCCD4AGE12147
FINAL ORDER OF FORFEITURE entered. The defendant vehicle is ordered forfeited to the Government for disposition according to law, as set out. Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 10/22/2012. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
ONE 2010 ASTON MARTIN,
CIVIL ACTION 11-0699-WS-N
FINAL ORDER OF FORFEITURE
This civil forfeiture action comes before the Court on plaintiff’s Motion for Order and
Judgment of Forfeiture (doc. 15).
For cause shown, the Motion is granted.
On December 8, 2011, a verified complaint for forfeiture in rem was filed on behalf of
the United States against the defendant vehicle, alleging it to be subject to forfeiture pursuant to
18 U.S.C. §§ 981(a)(1)(A) and 981(a)(1)(C), based on violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371
(conspiracy), 1343 (wire fraud) and 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) (money laundering).
Contemporaneously with the filing of the Complaint, the Government mailed copies of
the Complaint, Notice of Forfeiture Action and Warrant for Arrest to a known potential claimant,
Timothy Sullivan, addressed to the Estate of Timothy Sullivan (inasmuch as the Government
was aware that Sullivan had died on April 18, 2011), at known addresses for Sullivan in
California and Florida.
All such mailings were returned to the Government, marked
“unclaimed” or bearing illegible U.S. Postal Service markings.
Thereafter, the Government
took additional steps to attempt to notify Sullivan’s estate, to-wit: the Government endeavored to
determine whether an estate had been opened for Sullivan in Florida or California, and whether
accompanying probate court filings might identify an executor/executrix to whom notice could
be sent at another address.
In that regard, the Government queried a Florida court system
database (http://www2.miami-dadeclerk.com/civil/Search.aspx) for any estates in Timothy
Sullivan’s name in Miami-Dade County.
None was found.
The Government further contacted
the Probate Court Clerk’s Office in Los Angeles, California, and was advised by an employee of
that office that, upon querying its computer system for records for an estate of Timothy Sullivan
in that state, she had found none.
The net result of these efforts is that, to the best of the Government’s knowledge after
reasonable investigation, no estate has been opened for Sullivan in either California or Florida.
Moreover, the Government is aware of no other state in which Sullivan’s estate might have been
In any event, even if an estate had been opened for Sullivan, and even if a
representative of that estate had filed a claim, such claim would fail for the reasons specified in
the Government’s Motion.
In particular, that representative would stand in the same legal
position as Sullivan, who would have been precluded from establishing an innocent owner
defense under 18 U.S.C. § 983(d) because of his status as the wrongdoer who committed the
offense giving rise to the forfeiture.
Ultimately, of course, the fact remains that no person filed
a claim on behalf of the estate of Timothy Sullivan.
In addition to attempting to notify Sullivan’s estate, the Government sent notice to
potential claimant, Harry’s Auto Collision, Inc., notifying it of its right to file a claim in this
Court. Harry’s proceeded to file a timely claim and answer, and has actively participated in this
litigation ever since.
The Government published notice of this action on an official government forfeiture
internet site (www.forfeiture.gov) for 30 consecutive days beginning on December 23, 2011.
Said published notice notified unknown potential claimants that any claim to said currency had
to be filed within 60 days of the first date of publication, and that any motion under Rule 12 or
answer had to be filed within 21 days of filing the claim.
Accordingly, any claims by unknown
potential claimants were due by February 21, 2012, with any Rule 12 motion or answer to follow
on or before March 13, 2012.
No claims, motions or answers by unknown potential claimants
were filed and the time for filing same has long since expired.
In sum, the Court finds that all identifiable potential claimants have been sent notice, and
that all potential claimants have had adequate notice and adequate time in which to file a claim
and a motion and/or answer.
On January 13, 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed the Warrant for Arrest
issued by the Clerk of Court, thereby arresting the defendant vehicle and giving this Court in rem
jurisdiction over defendant.
On October 19, 2012, the Government and Harry’s filed a Release and Settlement of All
Claims and Stipulation and Consent to Entry of Order of Forfeiture (doc. 14).
Pursuant to the
terms of their settlement, the parties agreed that the Court may enter an order and judgment of
forfeiture in favor of the Government and against the in rem defendant, so that the property may
be disposed of by sale to the highest and best bidder.
The parties further agreed that the
estimated value of the vehicle is substantially in excess of Harry’s claim, which is in the amount
of $33,787.65, and that under no circumstances will the vehicle be sold for less than the amount
of Harry’s claim.
Upon sale of the vehicle and settlement of all outstanding invoices and
expenses, the Government agrees to pay Harry’s the sum of $33,787.65 via wire transfer
payment as soon as practicable, and both sides agree that all proceeds from that sale in excess of
the $33,787.65 claim amount will be retained by and forfeited to the Government for disposition
according to law.
With no other claims, motions or answers having been filed in opposition to the forfeiture
of the in rem defendant, and there being no remaining issues joined herein, final disposition of
this action is appropriate at this time.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Court having considered the matter and having been fully
advised in the premises, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED as follows:
This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter, and the complaint states a
claim upon which relief may be granted.
In accordance with the Verified Complaint, the defendant vehicle is ordered
forfeited to the Government, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981(a)(1)(A) and
981(a)(1)(C), based on violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 (conspiracy), 1343 (wire
fraud) and 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) (money laundering), for disposition according to law.
By agreement of the parties, the Government is to sell the vehicle.
from such sale exceeding $33,787.65 are ordered forfeited to the Government for
disposition according to law.
In their Settlement Agreement, the parties have agreed that the estimated value of
the 2010 Aston Martin well exceeds the amount of Harry’s claim, which the
parties agree is $33,787.65.
As a result, sale of the vehicle by the U.S. Marshals
Service or its contractor will likely result in a net gain after satisfaction of Harry’s
The parties agree, and the Court orders, that under no circumstances is
the vehicle to be sold for less than the amount of Harry’s claim.
Government agrees and is ordered to pay Harry’s the sum of $33,787.65 by wire
transfer payment through claimant’s attorney, David P. York, Esq., f/b/o Harry’s
Auto Collision, Inc. d/b/a Harry’s Auto Body, as soon as practicable after the sale.
However, the parties agree and acknowledge that before payment is made to
Harry’s the U.S. Marshals Service must pay all outstanding invoices for expenses
from the storage and sale of the subject vehicle which contractors have 30 days
after a sale to submit.
As a result, the parties further agree, and the Court
orders, that the Government may take up to 90 days following the sale to pay
Harry’s, but that the Government will endeavor to make said payment sooner.
The parties further agree that if unforeseen circumstances arise which require that
payment to Harry’s be delayed beyond 90 days after the sale, then the
Government is ordered to make such payment within an additional 30 days
unless otherwise further extended by agreement or court order.
The Government and Harry’s are to bear their own costs.
A separate judgment will enter.
This Order and the accompanying Judgment resolving all matters and issues
joined in this action, the Clerk of Court is directed to close this file for
administrative and statistical purposes.
DONE and ORDERED this 22nd day of October, 2012.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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