United States of America v. $23,000 in United States Currency
ORDER granting Government's 18 Motion for Default Judgment; and the Court ORDERS defendant currency be FORFEITED to the United States of America. Signed by Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell on 5/8/12. (ejb)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
$23,000 IN UNITED STATES
Pending before the Court is the Government’s Motion for Default Judgment
[# 18]. This is an in rem civil forfeiture action brought by the Government
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 881. The defendant property is $23,000 in United States
Currency. The Government now moves the Court to enter default judgment
pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and enter a final
order of forfeiture pursuant to Rule 58. The Court GRANTS the Government’s
motion [# 18].
The Clerk issued a warrant for the arrest of the defendant property on April
13, 2011, pursuant to Supplemental Rule G(3)(b)(I) of the Supplemental Rules for
Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions (“Supplemental
Rules”). (Warrant for Arrest, Apr. 13, 2011.) The warrant was returned executed
on April 20, 2011. (Process Receipt and Return, Apr. 20, 2011.) Subsequently,
the Government published the notice of this civil forfeiture action on
www.forfeiture.gov for at least thirty consecutive days beginning on April 14,
2011, in accordance with Rule G(4)(a)(iv)(c) of the Supplemental Rules. (Decl. of
Publication, Jun. 16, 2011.)
Claimant Timmy Lee Battle, Jr. filed a claim against the property on May
11, 2011. He then filed an Answer to the Complaint. The parties then stipulated to
having this case heard by a United States Magistrate Judge. Thereafter, Claimant
Battle withdrew his claim against the defendant property and relinquished any and
all claims to the property. No other person or entity has filed a claim against the
defendant property or answered the Complaint. Accordingly, the Clerk entered
default on January 18, 2012. The Government now moves for the entry of default
judgment in this case.
The admitted factual allegations contained in the Complaint establish that
the defendant property is subject to forfeiture. See Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (holding that a defaulting defendant is
deemed to have admitted all of the well-plead factual allegations in the complaint).
On November 25, 2010, an officer pulled over a pickup truck being driving by
Claimant Battle. Subsequently, another officer arrived on the scene with a dog
trained and certified to detect the odor of narcotics and drugs. The dog alerted
outside of the pickup truck. The officers then searched the truck, locating a plastic
grocery bag containing a total of $23,000 in United States currency. The currency
was in five separate bundles, each secured with a rubber band. The Court finds
that the allegations in the Complaint are sufficient to establish probable cause for
the belief that the currency at issue is proceeds traceable to transactions and
exchanges for controlled substances. See 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6); Boas v. Smith,
786 F.2d 605, 609 (4th Cir. 1986); United States v. $95,945.18, 913 F.2d 1106,
1110 (4th Cir. 1990); United States v. $148, 215.00, 768 F. Supp. 525, 527
(W.D.N.C. 1991) (Potter, J.). Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the Government’s
motion [# 18].
The Court GRANTS the Government’s Motion for Default Judgment [# 18].
The Court DIRECTS the Clerk to ENTER a Default Judgment against the
defendant currency. Finally, the Court ORDERS that the defendant currency be
FORFEITED to the United States of America.
Signed: May 8, 2012
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