United States of America v. Approximately $8,651 in Funds, No. 1:2017cv00145 - Document 10 (W.D.N.C. 2017)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER denying 8 Motion for Default Judgment. Signed by District Judge Martin Reidinger on 11/17/2017. (thh)

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THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA ASHEVILLE DIVISION CIVIL CASE NO. 1:17-cv-00145-MR-DLH UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) ) ) APPROXIMATELY $8,651 IN FUNDS ) SEIZED INCIDENT TO THE ARREST ) OF CHRISTOPHER MARK ERWIN, ) ) Defendant. ) _______________________________ ) MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Government’s Motion for Default Judgment [Doc. 8]. On June 9, 2017, the Government initiated this civil forfeiture action pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(A) and 21 U.S.C. § 881 against the defendant property. [Doc. 1]. As grounds for forfeiture, the Verified Complaint alleges in part that the defendant property was “seized incident to the arrest of Christopher Mark Erwin and constitutes “proceeds of and/or was used to facilitate drug trafficking crimes.” [Id. at ¶¶ 5, 6]. The Government posted notice of this civil forfeiture action for a period of 30 consecutive days, beginning on June 2, 2017, as required by Rule G(4)(a)(iv)(C) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. [Doc. 5]. Additionally, the Government provided direct notice to “Mr. Mark Erwin, c/o Stanley D. Young, Esq., 68 North Market Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801.” [See Doc. 6]. On July 13, 2017, Mark Edward Erwin filed a Notice, withdrawing his interest in the defendant property and expressly abandoning any claim or interest he had in such property. [Doc. 4]. On September 19, 2017, the Government filed the present motion for a default judgment against all persons and entities. [Doc. 8]. Rule G(4)(b)(i) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture requires that the Government “send notice of the action and a copy of the complaint to any person who reasonably appears to be a potential claimant ….” Here, the Government alleges that the defendant property was seized from, and incident to the arrest of, one Christopher Mark Erwin. [Doc. 1 at ¶ 7]. The Government did not, however, provide any direct notice to Christopher Mark Erwin, as required by Rule G(4)(b)(i). Rather, it provided direct notice only to “Mr. Mark Erwin, c/o Stanley D. Young.” It is unclear from the record what Mark Erwin’s relationship to this matter is. In any event, however, the Government failed to provide direct notice to a potential claimant, that being the person from 2 whom the defendant property was directly seized. Accordingly, the Government’s motion for default judgment is denied. IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the Government’s Motion for Default Judgment [Doc. 8] is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED. Signed: November 17, 2017 3

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