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United States v. $10

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

November 22, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$10, 704.00 in U.S. Currency, Defendant.

          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, DEFAULT JUDGMENT, AND ORDER OF FORFEITURE

          SUSAN P. WATTERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is brought before this Court by Plaintiff, United States, by and through its attorney, Victoria L. Francis, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana. The United States has filed a Motion for Entry of Default Judgment and Order of Forfeiture pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2) (Doc. 13). Upon considering the pleadings filed herein, the Court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. On August 3, 2017, the United States instituted a judicial forfeiture action by filing in this cause a Verified Complaint in Rem against the defendant funds in the amount of $10, 704.00, to forfeit property under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 881(a)(6) asserting the defendant currency was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance, and/or was used or intended to be used to facilitate one or more violations of 21 U.S.C. § 841, et seq . (Doc. 2)

         2. On August 21, 2017, the United States Marshal Service executed the Warrant of Arrest in Rem that was issued by this Court on August 8, 2017, and arrested the defendant currency. (Doc. 6).

         3. On August 3, 2017, the United States provided "actual notice" of this civil asset forfeiture action on August 3, by mailing the Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture and Verified Complaint In Rem (Doc. 2) to Raymond Tetzlaff, via first class U.S. mail and Certified mail to the address provided in his administrative claim. On August 29, 2017, a copy of the Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem to Counsel (Doc. 5) was mailed via first class U.S. mail and Certified mail to the address of claimant's defense counsel, Kelly J. Varnes.

         4. On August 3, 2017, the United States provided "actual notice" of this civil asset forfeiture action on August 3, by mailing the Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture and Verified Complaint In Rem (Doc. 2) to Crystal Busby-Tetzlaff, via first class U.S. mail and Certified mail to the address provided in her administrative claim. On August 29, 2017, a copy of the Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem to Counsel (Doc. 5) was mailed via first class U.S. mail and Certified mail to the address of claimant's defense counsel, Matthew Wald.

         5. Notice of this forfeiture action was also provided to known and unknown potential claimants by publishing on the government's asset forfeiture website the Notice of Forfeiture Action for 30 consecutive days, beginning on July 25, 2017, and ending on August 23, 2017. The "Notice of Forfeiture Action" provides in pertinent part as follows:

Any person claiming a legal interest in the Defendant Property must file a verified Claim with the court within 60 days from the first day of publication (July 25, 2017) of this Notice on this official government internet web site and an Answer to the complaint or motion under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure within 21 days thereafter. . . .

(Dec. of Publication, Doc. 7, Att. 1).

         6. Upon considering the United States' Unopposed Motion for Entry of Default of Known and Unknown Potential Claimants (Doc. 10), the Clerk of District Court entered the default of Raymond Tetzlaff, Crystal Busby-Tetzlaff, and any unknown potential claimants, on November 16, 2017, for failure to timely file a verified claim and/or to answer or otherwise defend as required by the Supplemental Rules. (Doc. 12).

         7. The factual allegations set forth in paragraphs 5 through 30, Doc. 1 are verified by Michael T. Zidack, Special Agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (Doc. 1, pp. 2-14)

         Based upon the foregoing findings of fact, the Court makes the following conclusions of law.

         CONCLUSIONS ...


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