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United States v. $53

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

April 12, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,, Plaintiff,
v.
$53, 201.00 in U.S. Currency, Defendant.

          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND DECREE OF FORFEITURE

          Susan P. Watters, United States District Judge.

         This matter having come before the Court on the United States' Unopposed Motion for Entry of Judgment and Order of Forfeiture, and the Court having reviewed the Motion and the Settlement Agreement filed with the Court, hereby makes the following Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Decree:

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. On December 4, 2018, the United States filed a Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem seeking the forfeiture of $53, 201.00 in United States currency. (Doc. 1).

         2. On December 6, 2018, the United States provided "direct 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 Aaron Greer, and his attorney, Jacek W. Lentz, via first class U.S. mail and Certified mail, to the address provided in the administrative claim (See Doc. 2), and to Brandon Burris, via first class U.S. mail and Certified mail, to the address provided by law enforcement (See Doc. 9, ex. 1-2).

         3. 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 December 13, 2018, and ending on January 11, 2019. 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 (December 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 thereafter....

(Dec. of Publication, Doc. 6-1).

         4. On February 7, 2019, Aaron Greer, through his attorney, filed a verified claim to the defendant currency. (Doc. 7) On February 25, 2019, Aaron Greer, through his attorney, provided, via first class U.S. mail, an answer to the Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem.

         5. Brandon Burris failed to file a claim within 35 days of notice being provided, or file an answer or motion within 21 days thereafter as required by Supplemental Rules G(5)(a)(ii)(B) and G(5)(b) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. On March 22, 2019, a motion for entry of default (Doc. 8), supported by Declaration (Doc. 9) was filed with the Court. On March 25, 2019, the Clerk of Court entered the default of Brandon Burris. (Doc. 10).

         6. Unknown potential claimants failed to file a claim within 60 days from the first day of publication, and an answer or motion within 21 days thereafter as required by Supplemental Rules G(5)(a)(ii)(B) and G(5)(b) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. After a motion for entry of default (Doc. 8), supported by Declaration (Doc. 9), the Clerk of Court entered the default of unknown potential claimants on March 25, 2019. (Doc. 10).

         7. Plaintiff and claimant, Aaron Greer, by and through his attorney, Jacek W. Lentz, entered into a Settlement Agreement, dated March 31, 2019, and filed with the Court on April 9, 2019. (Doc. 11). Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement, claimant, Aaron Greer, agreed to the entry of a Decree of Forfeiture of currency to the United States in the amount of $46, 201.00, and the United States agreed to release the remaining $7, 000.00 to claimant, Aaron Greer, and his counsel.

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

         CONCLUSIONS ...


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