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United States v. Two Bank Accounts Described

December 31, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TWO BANK ACCOUNTS DESCRIBED AS: BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $197,524.99 BANK OF AMERICA SEATTLE, WASHINGTON BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $20,537.42 BANK OF AMERICA SEATTLE, WASHINGTON DEFENDANTS.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
11 BANK ACCOUNTS DESCRIBED AS: CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $100,383.56 MINNWEST BANK LUVERNE, MINNESOTA CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $100,404.11 MINNWEST BANK TRACY, MINNESOTA CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $100,410.96 MINNWEST BANK MONTIVIDEO, MINNESOTA CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $100,465.75 MINNWEST BANK ORTONVILLE, MINNESOTA BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $18,015.75 MINNWEST BANK ORTONVILLE, MINNESOTA BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $76,543.07 MINNWEST BANK ORTONVILLE, MINNESOTA BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,292.51 ) BROOKINGS FEDERAL BANK BROOKINGS, SOUTH DAKOTA CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT IN THE AMOUNT OF $100,438.00 MINNWEST BANK REDWOOD FALLS, MINNESOTA BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $170,122.48 AMERICAN EXPRESS MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,693.54 BANK OF AMERICA SEATTLE, WASHINGTON BANK ACCOUNT IN THE AMOUNT OF $54,529.99 BANK OF AMERICA SEATTLE, WASHINGTON DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Karen E. Schreier Chief Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART GOVERNMENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

The government moves for summary judgment as to four bank accounts that it has seized pursuant to a civil forfeiture action: a bank account in the name of Black Rhino, located at Bank of America, Seattle, Washington, in the amount of $2,693.54 (Black Rhino account); a bank account in the name of Mountain Aire Equity, located at Bank of America, Seattle, Washington, in the amount of $54,429.99 (Mountain Aire Equity account); a bank account in the name of Dataport, located at the Bank of America, Seattle, Washington, in the amount of $197,524.99 (Dataport account); and a bank account in the name of Turbo ISP, located at the Bank of America, Seattle, Washington, in the amount of $20,537.42 (Turbo ISP account). Jewell, a purported interested claimant, appearing pro se, objects to the motion. The motion is granted in part.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The government initiated United States v. Eleven Bank Accounts, Civ. No. 06-4005, a civil forfeiture action, by filing a verified complaint on January 12, 2006, and an amended verified complaint on January 19, 2006. The original complaint listed twelve defendant bank accounts, including three bank accounts in Seattle, Washington. The amended complaint removed one of the Seattle bank accounts in the amount of $10,619.42 from this action. Additionally, the original complaint listed the three Seattle bank accounts as being in the name of Timothy Jewell. The amended complaint listed the remaining two Seattle bank accounts as being in the name of Black Rhino and Mountain Aire Equity. Docket 1 and Docket 5.

The government initiated a second civil forfeiture action, United States v. Two Bank Accounts, Civ. No. 06-4016, by filing a verified complaint for seizure of two defendant bank accounts on January 20, 2006. The bank accounts included one account in the amount of $197,524.99 located at the Bank of America in Seattle, Washington, maintained in the name of Dataport and a second account in the amount of $20,537.42 located at the Bank of America in Seattle, Washington, maintained in the name of Turbo ISP. Docket 1. The court consolidated the two actions. Civ. No. 06-4016, Docket 150.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the case under the governing substantive law will properly preclude summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). Summary judgment is not appropriate if a dispute about a material fact is genuine, that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

The moving party bears the burden of bringing forward sufficient evidence to establish that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed. 2d 265 (1986). The nonmoving party is entitled to the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts in the record. Vette Co. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 612 F.2d 1076, 1077 (8th Cir. 1980). The nonmoving party may not, however, merely rest upon allegations or denials in its pleadings, but must set forth specific facts by affidavits or otherwise showing that a genuine issue exists. Forrest v. Kraft Foods, Inc., 285 F.3d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 2002).

DISCUSSION

I. United States v. Eleven Bank Accounts, Civ. No. 06-4005

A. Interested Claimants In a civil forfeiture action, any party alleging an ownership interest in the seized property may contest the forfeiture. In this case, two individuals, Robert Woldt and Timothy Jewell, filed statements of ownership interest.

1. Robert Woldt Robert Woldt filed a verified answer to the amended verified complaint on February 10, 2006, and almost two years later, on October 18, 2007, the government moved to strike Woldt's verified answer for failure to comply with the requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(4) and Rule C(6) of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. Docket 11 and Docket 83. About a month after the government filed its motion to strike, Woldt filed statements of interest and claims of ownership in nine of the eleven defendant property bank accounts.*fn1 Dockets 103-112. On November 26, 2007, the court granted the government's motion to strike the answer of Woldt, finding that Woldt failed to timely file a verified answer or verified statement of interest, and ordered Woldt's answer be stricken from the record. Docket 114. Soon thereafter, on December 12, 2007, the government moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, to strike Woldt's statements of interest and claims of ownership. Docket 131. Magistrate Judge Duffy recommended that the government's motion to strike Woldt's claims be granted because Woldt had not responded to the government's motion, had not moved the court for an extension of time, and had not given any reason explaining why his claims were filed in such an untimely manner. Docket 152. The court adopted Magistrate Judge Duffy's report and recommendation, granted the government's motion to strike Woldt's claims, and ordered that Woldt's claims be stricken from the record. Docket 210. Subsequently, the government filed an application for clerk's entry of default as to Woldt, and the clerk entered default judgment as to Woldt. Civ. No. 06-4016, Docket 154 and Docket 157. The government also moved for entry of default judgment as to Woldt, and the court granted that motion and entered an order of default judgment as to Woldt. Civ. 06-4016, Docket 181.

2. Timothy Jewell

Timothy Jewell filed a verified answer to the amended verified complaint on February 14, 2006, and almost two years later, on October 18, 2007, the government moved to strike Jewell's verified answer for failure to comply with the requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(4) and Rule C(6) of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. Docket 13 and Docket 88. A month after the government filed its motion to strike, Jewell filed a claim of right or title statement of interest, stating that he believed that he has an ownership and/or security interest in ten of the eleven defendant property bank accounts.*fn2 Docket 97. Approximately one week later, Jewell filed a support statement of interest with regards to the Black Rhino bank account, Mountain Aire Equity bank account, and a bank account in the name of Transworld Refinancing Establishment Inc., located at American Express, Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the amount of $170,122.48 (Transworld account). Docket 116.

Soon after Jewell filed his support statement of interest, the government moved to strike Jewell's "Claim of Right or Title Statement of Interest" and "Support Statement of Interest in Claim" for failure to comply with the requirements of 18 U.S.C. ยง 983 and Rule C(6) of the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims. Docket 126. Magistrate Judge Duffy recommended that the government's motion to strike Jewell's claim and support statement be granted in part and denied in part. Magistrate Judge Duffy determined that Jewell's filings had complied with procedural requirements so as to allow Jewell to proceed with his claims to the Black Rhino, Mountain Aire Equity, and Transworld accounts, but that he had not ...


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