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02/16/82 United States of America v. Benjamin T. Thornton

February 16, 1982

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

v.

BENJAMIN T. THORNTON, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND, APPELLANT 1982.CDC.36 DATE DECIDED: FEBRUARY 16, 1982; AS AMENDED FEBRUARY 24, 1982

THE MANNER OF ENFORCING A JUDGMENT IMPOSING A CRIMINAL FINE IN FAVOR OF THE UNITED STATES IS PROVIDED FOR BY 18 U.S.C. § 3565, FED.R.CI

v.

P. 69(A), AND 28 U.S.C. § 2413. THESE STATUTES AND RULE PROVIDE-FIRST, THE UNITED STATES CRIMINAL CODE:



Before MacKINNON, WALD and MIKVA, Circuit Judges.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C.Criminal No. 75-00438).

APPELLATE PANEL:

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge, MacKINNON.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MACKINNON

Prince George's County (the "County") in contiguous Maryland appeals from a default judgment entered against it by the United States in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia ("District Court"). The County's Director of Finance (Brown) in his official capacity came into possession of $15,439.24 as a result of a police seizure in a raid upon Benjamin T. Thornton's residence in Prince George's County in connection with a State of Maryland gambling investigation. Following the seizure no charges against Thornton have survived, but the seized money, except $2,900 returned to Thornton, has nevertheless been retained by the County's Director of Finance.

Thornton owes the United States $10,000 in fines adjudged in the District Court for the District of Columbia in connection with an earlier gambling conviction in that court. In an effort to collect the fine imposed, the United States duly filed the $10,000 judgment for record in the Office of Recorder of Deeds for the Government of the District of Columbia (App. 4). Thereafter the United States caused a Writ of Execution to issue commanding the United States Marshal to recover said sum from the authorities in Prince George's County. On October 21, 1980 the Marshal served a "Writ of Attachment on Judgment" and Interrogatories on "William R. Brown, Jr., Director of Finance (Prince George's County) ... Garnishee." On November 10, 19801 the County Attorney's Office of Prince George's County, Treasury Division, admitted by answer filed to holding $15,439.24 of the credits of Benjamin T. Thornton (App. 9). The United States thereafter moved for Judgment of Condemnation against $10,000 of the credits belonging to Thornton. When the County failed to make timely response to this motion the District Court on February 6, 1981, entered a Judgment of Condemnation and on February 10, 1981, the County filed a belated Motion for Relief from Judgment alleging that the United States District Court had no jurisdiction over the County. This request was denied by the District Court on March 2, 1981, (App. 26) and on March 11, 1981, the County appealed to this Court from the Court's Order to pay the "$10,000 to the United States" (Rec. 176) in satisfaction of Thornton's fine (Rec. 174). We affirm the Judgment and Order of the United States District Court. I

On December 2, 1976, Thornton was convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on three counts of violating the gambling laws of the United States and of the District of Columbia. On February 1, 1977, in addition to receiving prison sentences for two violations of 18 U.S.C. § 4205(b)(2), the federal offenses, he was also fined $5,000 on each of the two counts.2 To date, Thornton has not paid those fines which total $10,000.

In January, 1980, Thornton was paroled and subsequently the Collections Unit of the United States Attorney's office requested Thornton to provide a schedule of payments for the fine. Thornton failed to produce a satisfactory schedule.

On July 22, 1980, the County police, acting on a tip from the FBI that Thornton was again engaged in gambling activities, arrested Thornton and seized $15,439 from his home. No charges were eventually pressed by Prince George's County or any Maryland authorities that were related to that search and seizure.3 The $15,439,4 however, remained in the custody of the County's Director of Finance and the United States, as above described, has sought to obtain $10,000 of the balance that remains in the custody of the Director of Finance to apply to the payment of the fine imposed by the Judgment in Thornton's criminal case. II

In all criminal cases in which judgment or sentence is rendered ... the fine ... may be enforced by execution against the property of the defendant in like manner as judgments in civil cases....

18 U.S.C. § 3565 (emphasis added).

Second, the Federal Code of Judicial Procedure:

A writ of execution on a judgment obtained for the use of the United States in any court thereof shall be issued from and made returnable to the court which rendered the judgment, but may be executed in any other ...


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