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United States v. Four Thousand Two Hundred Ninety and 00/100 ($4290.00) In U.S. Currency

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 5, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED NINETY AND 00/100 ($4290.00) IN U.S. CURRENCY, ILLINOIS, Defendant.

OPINION

RICHARD MILLS, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is the Motion of Plaintiff United States to Strike the Claim of Patrick Wallace and for Entry of Default against Defendant and all other potential claimants. The Claimant has filed a Response to the Plaintiff's Motion. Pending also is the Claimant's Motion to Reconsider the Denial of the Appointment of Counsel.

Because the Claimant has not followed the discovery rules, the Government prevails.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 24, 2012, a verified Complaint in rem was filed by the United States to enforce the provisions of 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) for the forfeiture of $4, 290.00 in United States Currency, which is money furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance in violation of Title II of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801, et seq., or are proceeds traceable to such an exchange.

The Complaint and Notice of Civil Forfeiture Action were served upon Patrick Wallace, by certified mail on his attorney, John Alvarez, on May 25, 2012. A Warrant in rem was served upon the Defendant Currency on June 7, 2012. Patrick Wallace filed a verified claim on June 12, 2012, and an Answer to the Complaint on June 26, 2012.

Pursuant to an Order of the Court, a Notice of Forfeiture Action was published on the internet website, www.forfeiture.gov, which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice. The last date of publication was on June 28, 2012.

More than 30 days have passed since service of process on potential claimants and since the last date of publication. No one other than Patrick Wallace has filed a claim to the Defendant and the time within which to do so has expired.

The United States alleges that on July 10, 2013, it sent Special Interrogatories to Wallace pursuant to Supplemental Rule G of the Rules for Admiralty or Maritime and Asset Forfeiture Claims. Wallace provided Answers to Special Interrogatories on or about July 31, 2013. By letter dated August 5, 2013, Counsel for the Government sent a letter to Wallace informing him that his Answers to Special Interrogatories were deficient. On August 19, 2013, Counsel received Wallace's "Response to Deficient Interrogatories."

The United States claims Wallace's August 19th response was also deficient because it did not adequately respond to requests for financial and other information regarding income Wallace claimed he received from an inheritance and selling videotapes. In response to those Special Interrogatories, Wallace responded that the "information was in the trunk of my car, which is in possession of law enforcement." Attached to the Government's Motion as Exhibit 1 is a complete inventory of everything seized from Wallace's car. According to the inventory, no financial information or documents which are consistent with Wallace's response were found inside the vehicle seized by law enforcement.

The Claimant contends that the inventory document is fraudulent. He states that it does not include any dates or signatures and does not say who discovered what items. The Claimant asserts that although his car was taken on December 15, 2011, this document was not made part of the record until January 16, 2014.

On August 22, 2013, the Court entered a Rule 26 scheduling order. On October 21, 2013, the Government propounded Interrogatories and a Request for Production of Documents on Claimant pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil procedure 33. Responses to the discovery requests were due no later than November 23, 2013. By letters dated December 4, 2013 and December 9, 2013, Counsel for the United States inquired as to the status of those outstanding discovery responses. Wallace did not comply with the discovery requests or respond to the Government's letters.

On October 21, 2013, the Government filed a Motion to Compel Claimant to Comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b), which was granted on December 4, 2013. The Claimant was Ordered to amend his Answer no later than January 2, 2014. The Claimant did not file an Amended Answer by January 2, 2014. Accordingly, the Claimant did not comply with the Court's Order of December 4, 2013.

On February 12, 2014, the Claimant filed a Response to the Government's Motion to Strike and Application for Entry of Default. The Pro Se Claimant states that he has complied with discovery requests to the extent that he is able as a prison inmate. He further ...


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