UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. CURRENCY
ORDER GRANTING 18 Motion to Strike and GRANTING 18 Motion for Forfeiture of Property. Ordered by U.S. District Judge Marc Thomas Treadwell on 1/15/2014. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
$8,000.00 IN UNITED STATES
First-Named Defendant Property,
ANTWAN L. WEATHERSBEE
CASE NO. 5:12-CV-329 (MTT)
ORDER GRANTING UNITED STATES’ MOTION TO STRIKE
RESPONSIVE PLEADINGS OF CLAIMANT ANTWAN L. WEATHERSBEE
AND ORDER FOR ISSUANCE OF FINAL ORDER OF
FORFEITURE AS TO THE FIRST-NAMED DEFENDANT PROPERTY
Upon consideration of the United States’ Motion to Strike and for Final Order of
Forfeiture, and the record of this case, the Court finds that good cause exists to grant
THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Claim and Answer of Claimant
Antwan L. Weathersbee [Docs. 8 and 13] shall be stricken from this case.
The responsive pleadings of the Claimant having been stricken, the Court hereby
makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
This Court has jurisdiction of this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. '' 1345
and 1355, and venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 1395.
Pursuant to a Warrant of Arrest in Rem this Court issued on August 14,
2012, the United States Marshals Service for the Middle District of Georgia arrested and
seized the Defendant Property on August 23, 2012.
The United States has furnished due and legal notice
proceedings as required by law. The United States perfected service of process of this
action on all potential claimants.
The United States published notice of this action on an official government
website, www.forfeiture.gov for at least thirty (30) consecutive days, beginning on
August 28, 2012, as required by Rule G(4)(a)(iv)(C) of the Supplemental Rules for
Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions.
Claimant Antwan L. Weathersbee filed a timely Claim and Answer in these
proceedings, asserting his interest in the First-Named Defendant Property, through his
counsel, Lee Sexton, Esquire, but those pleadings have now been stricken.
On December 18, 2012, the Court entered a Discovery and Scheduling
Order which provided for completion of discovery by June 17, 2013.
On January 16, 2013, Plaintiff sent Special Interrogatories pursuant to
Rule G(6) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset
Forfeiture Actions, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to the Claimants, through their
counsel of record, Mr. Sexton, via certified mail number 7011 2000 0001 9219 9581,
and responses were received June 11, 2013.
On August 2, 2013, the Court entered an Order scheduling a pretrial
conference for October 2, 2013, and requesting that a joint proposed pretrial order be
submitted five days prior.
Prior to the pretrial conference, after having been informed that the
office of Lee Sexton, Esquire had not been in contact with the Claimants, the
undersigned contacted the Court on September 23, 2013, requesting that a telephone
conference be set in regards to the pretrial of this forfeiture action.
A Telephone Conference was set for September 24, 2013, as indicated by
a text entry on the docket.
During the Telephone Conference on September 24, 2013, Brad Moody,
Esq. informed the Court that the Claimants’ counsel Lee Sexton, Esq. had been out for
a medical condition, that he was able to locate Claimant Patrick R. Royster, but was
unable to locate Claimant Antwan L. Weathersbee. The Court advised that if there were
grounds for a continuance (i.e. Mr. Sexton’s medical condition), then a motion continue
should be filed.
On September 30, 2013, the United States filed a Notice of Settlement as
to Claimant Patrick L. Royster, and his interest in the Second-Named Defendant
Property. The United States also notified the Court of its anticipation of filing a
motion to strike the claim of Claimant Antwan L. Weathersbee.
As of the date of filing this motion, the United States has not
informed by counsel for Claimant Antwan L. Weathersbee that his client has been
located, and Claimant Antwan L. Weathersbee has failed to diligently defend his
claim by ignoring a direct order from this Court to comply with the pretrial Order. In
addition, no other claims or answers have been filed with regard to the First-Named
Defendant Property, and the time for filing claims and answers has expired.
There is sufficient evidence to warrant a conclusion, by a preponderance
of evidence standard, that Defendant Property is subject to forfeiture in accordance with
21 U.S.C. ' 881(a)(6) and 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(A).
THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY FURTHER ORDERED THAT:
All right, title, and interest in the First-Named Defendant Property is
hereby forfeited to and vested in the United States, which shall have clear title to this
property and may warrant good title to any subsequent transferee.
The United States Attorney General or his authorized designee shall
dispose of this property in accordance with the law.
No parties shall be entitled to costs, including any costs under 28 U.S.C.
'§ 2412 and 2465, nor shall the person or persons who made the seizure of the FirstNamed Defendant Property, nor any attorney, agent, or employee of the United States,
be liable to suit or judgment on account of the seizure of the First-Named Defendant
Property or prosecution of the instant forfeiture action, there being reasonable cause
shown for the seizure.
SO ORDERED, this 15th day of January, 2013.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MICHAEL J. MOORE
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
s/ DANIAL E. BENNETT
ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
GEORGIA STATE BAR NO. 052683
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