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United States v. Thirteen Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($13

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

April 21, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
THIRTEEN THOUSAND AND 00/100 DOLLARS ($13, 000.00) IN U.S. CURRENCY, Defendant.

OPINION

RICHARD MILLS, District Judge.

Plaintiff United States of America brought this civil action in rem to enforce the provisions of 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) for the forfeiture of $13, 000.00 in United States Currency ("Defendant Currency"), as 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 as proceeds traceable to such an exchange. Pending before the Court is the Government's Renewed Motion to Strike and Motion for the Entry of Default Judgment.

I.

A Verified Claim was filed by Wilford T. Archie III, who alleged he was the rightful owner of the Defendant Currency. The Claimant alleged the Defendant Currency was not traceable to controlled substances and requested that the $13, 000.00 be returned to him.

United States Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins entered an Order setting a Rule 16 Scheduling Conference on October 15, 2014. The Parties were directed to confer prior to the conference and submit a proposed discovery plan and discovery schedule.

Subsequently, the Government filed a motion to compel Claimant Wilford Archie III to answer special interrogatories. The Government also filed a proposed discovery plan.

The Minute Entry of Judge Schanzle-Haskins on October 15, 2014 provides that although counsel for the United States was present by telephone, the Court was unable to reach the Claimant despite multiple attempts. It further provides that Claimant did not respond to the Government's proposed discovery plan. The Court entered the Scheduling Order in accordance with the proposed discovery plan. A telephonic Status Conference was set for April 16, 2015.

The Claimant filed a Response which objected to the Discovery Plan. He stated he would not comply and requested that the Defendant Currency be returned to him. The Court overruled the Claimant's objections to the Discovery Plan.

On December 10, 2014, the Claimant was directed to fully respond by December 29, 2014 to a number of interrogatories.

On January 12, 2015, the Government filed a motion to strike based on the Claimant's failure to respond to the Special Interrogatories as directed and motion for entry of Default Judgment. On February 20, 2015, the Claimant filed a response and answer to motion to strike.

A Minute Entry on April 16, 2015 states that Counsel for the Government was present by telephone. The Claimant could not be reached for the scheduled status conference.

II.

The Court has reviewed the Claimant's Answer and Objections to Special Interrogatories. A number of answers are deficient. The Claimant did not directly answer the question about his criminal history and current criminal offenses and arrests. The Government notes the Claimant did not mention his 2007 arrest in Louisiana for possession of marijuana.

The Claimant gave inconsistent stories regarding the source of the Defendant Currency. To the extent that Plaintiff has alleged he received a significant loan from his sister, the Claimant has not provided documentation such as (1) a withdrawal slip or bank statement showing a deduction from her bank account; (2) a canceled check payable to the Claimant; or (3) any other explanation regarding his receipt of the funds. At the time of the traffic stop by law enforcement on November 26, 2013, the Claimant told law enforcement that he obtained the Defendant Currency from "shooting dice gambling games with his friends, his work, and from his wife." When officers spoke by telephone to the Claimant's wife, she informed them that she gave the Claimant a large sum ...


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