USA v. $40,000.00 IN U.S. Currency
ORDER: The USA's Motion to Strike Claim for Failing to Comply with Supplemental Rule G(5) 7 is GRANTED. Bennie Bowden, II's Statement of Right or Interest 6 is STRICKEN, with leave to file an amended claim. Bowden shall have 14 days from the date of this Order to file an amended claim. Signed by Judge James S. Moody, Jr on 11/7/2012. (LN)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 8:12-cv-2076-T-30EAJ
$40,000.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY,
THIS CAUSE comes before the Court upon Plaintiff the United States of America’s
Motion to Strike Claim for Failing to Comply with Supplemental Rule G(5) (Dkt. 7). The
Claimant, Benny Bowden, II, failed to file a response to the instant motion and the time for
doing so has passed. Upon consideration of the motion, and being otherwise advised of the
premises, the Court concludes that the motion should be granted.
The United States filed this action seeking forfeiture of $40,000.00 in U.S. currency
obtained through seizure from luggage at the Tampa International Airport (Dkt. 1). Pursuant
to Supplemental Rule G(5)(a) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims
and Asset Forfeiture Actions (“the Supplemental Rules”), Bennie Bowden, II filed a verified
statement or right of interest to the $40,000.00 in U.S. currency simply stating that he is the
lawful owner of the property and had possession of it at the time it was seized from his
person and belongings (Dkt. 6). By the instant motion, the United States seeks to strike
Bowden’s claim for failure to comply with Supplemental Rule G(5) (Dkt. 7).
Supplemental Rule G(5) allows a person who asserts an interest in a defendant
property in an in rem forfeiture action to contest the forfeiture by filing a claim in the court
where the action is pending. Supplemental Rule G(5)(a)(I); see also 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(4).
To state a valid claim, the claim must: (1) identify the specific property claimed; (2) identify
the claimant and state the claimant’s interest in the property; (3) be signed by the claimant
under the penalty of perjury; and (4) be served on the government attorney designated under
Supplemental Rule G(4)(a)(ii) (C) or (b)(ii)(D). Supplemental Rule G(5)(a)(I). As it has
done here, the United States may move at any time before trial to strike a claim or answer for
failing to comply with Supplemental Rule G(5) or because the claimant lacks standing.
Supplemental Rule G(8)(c)(I).
The burden of establishing standing in forfeiture proceedings remains with the
claimant. See U.S. v. $114,031.00 in U.S. Currency, 284 Fed. App’x 754, 756 (11th Cir.
2008). The requirement to identify the claimant’s interest in the property is obligatory for
a claimant to have standing to challenge an in rem claim in a forfeiture action. Id. In this
instance, Bowden’s blanket assertion that he is the owner of the property and had possession
of it at the time it was seized does not sufficiently identify his interest in the property. See
U.S. v. $100,348.00 in U.S. Currency, 354 F.3d 1110, 1118-19 (9th Cir. 2004) (finding that
the danger of false claims in forfeiture proceedings is substantial and therefore requiring
courts to demand more than conclusory allegations of some purported “interest” in the
forfeited property); U.S. v. $39,557.00, More or Less, in U.S. Currency, 683 F. Supp. 2d 335,
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339-40 (D.N.J. 2010) (finding claimant’s bald assertion of ownership of funds seized from
a vehicle not sufficient to identify the claimant’s interest in the currency); U.S. v. $134,750
in U.S. Currency, 2010 WL 1741359, at *3 (D. Md. Apr. 28, 2010) (finding that “the
Claimant needs to state where and how he acquired the seized assets in which he asserts
property interests . . . including, but not limited to, the person(s) from whom he received the
currency, the date of receipt, the place of the receipt, and a description of the transaction
which generated the currency.”).
In sum, without more than a blanket assertion of ownership of the funds, the Court
cannot ascertain whether Bowden has a viable claim to the funds and, accordingly, his claim
is currently deficient. Notwithstanding, Bowden may file an amended claim to more
specifically set forth his interests in the funds.
It is therefore ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that:
The United States of America’s Motion to Strike Claim for Failing to Comply
with Supplemental Rule G(5) (Dkt. 7) is GRANTED.
Bennie Bowden, II’s Statement of Right or Interest (Dkt. 6) is STRICKEN,
with leave to file an amended claim. Bowden shall have fourteen (14) days
from the date of this Order to file an amended claim.
DONE and ORDERED in Tampa, Florida on November 7, 2012.
Copies furnished to:
Counsel/Parties of Record
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