United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSION OF LAW, JUDGMENT, AND
ORDER OF FORFEITURE
P. WATTERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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 Judgment and
Order of Forfeiture (Doc. 14) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(b)(2). Upon considering the pleadings filed herein, the
Court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusion of
August 17, 2018, the United States instituted a judicial
forfeiture action by filing in this cause a Verified
Complaint in Rem against the Defendant currency in
the amount of $110, 000.00, 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 and 881(a)(6) .
September 12, 2018, the U.S. Marshal Service executed the
Warrant of Arrest in Rem (Doc. 5) that was issued by
this Court on September 4, 2018, and arrested the defendant
currency. (Doc. 6).
August 22, 2018, the United States provided "actual
notice" of this civil asset forfeiture action, by
mailing the Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture (Doc. 2), and
Verified Complaint In Rem (Doc. 1), to Justin James Wood, and
his attorney, Sebastian Ohanian, via first class U.S. mail
and Certified mail, to the addresses provided in Justin
Wood's administrative claim (See Doc. 8, ex.s 1-4), to
Sherry Meyoka Wood, and Melva Romares Wood, via first class
U.S. mail and Certified mail, to the addresses provided by
law enforcement (See Doc. 8, ex.s 5-8), and Timothy
F. Wood, via first class U.S. mail to the address of his
incarceration, provided by law enforcement (See Doc.
8, ex. 8).
Notice of this forfeiture action was also provided to unknown
potential claimants by publishing on the government's
asset forfeiture website the Notice of Forfeiture Action for
30 consecutive days, beginning on September 13, 2018, and
ending on October 12, 2018. 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 (September 13, 2018)
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
(Dec. of Publication, Doc. 10, Att. 1).
considering the United States' Motion for Entry of
Default of Known Potential Claimants, Justin James Wood,
Sherry Meyoka Wood, Melva Romares Wood, and Timothy F. Wood,
(Doc. 7), and Unknown Potential Claimants (Doc. 11), the
Clerk of District Court entered the default of Justin James
Wood, Sherry Meyoka Wood, Melva Romares Wood, and Timothy F.
Wood, on October 2, 2018, and the default of unknown
potential claimants, on November 20, 2018, for failure to
timely file a verified claim and/or to answer or otherwise
defend as required by the Supplemental Rules. (Docs. 9 and
factual allegations set forth in paragraphs 4 through 36, of
the Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem are
verified by Andrew Ubbelohde, Special Agent for the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. (Doc. 1)
upon the foregoing findings of fact, the Court makes the
following conclusions of law.
Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1345 and 1355. The United States has filed a
Verified Complaint for Forfeiture in Rem to forfeit
the Defendant currency under 21 U.S.C. §§841 and
881(a)(6), as currency constituting monies or other things of
value furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a
controlled substance, ...