UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA SOUTHERN DIVISION
January 5, 2009
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
V. WOLDT'S TWO BANK ACCOUNTS IMMEDIATE 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,
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 DENYING MOTION FOR DISMISSAL AND RETURN OF ALL FUNDS PLUS INTEREST
Robert Woldt, pro se, moves for immediate dismissal of the civil forfeiture action, United States v. Eleven Bank Accounts, Civ No. 06-4005, and for return of all funds the government has seized in connection with the case plus interest. The government opposes the motion. The motion is denied.
On January 19, 2006, the government filed an amended verified complaint, commencing United States v. Eleven Bank Accounts, Civ. No. 06- 4005, a civil forfeiture action against eleven defendant bank accounts. Docket 5.*fn1 About a month later, on February 10, 2006, Robert Woldt filed a verified answer to the amended verified complaint. Docket 11. 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 83. Subsequently, on November 20, 2007, Woldt filed statements of interest and claims of ownership in nine of the eleven defendant property bank accounts.*fn2 Dockets 103-112.
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. As a result, 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 should 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 clams 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.
As a result, 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.
Woldt argues that the court should dismiss this civil forfeiture case and return all funds plus interest because the action is based upon lies perpetuated by FBI Special Agent Matt Miller and Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Bengford. Woldt emphasizes that he filed his answer to the amended verified complaint within the requisite twenty-day deadline. Woldt asserts that as a United States citizen, he is entitled to a jury trial and has been denied that right. Finally, Woldt stresses that the FBI and Justice Department have presented incorrect information to the court.*fn3 The government responds that Woldt does not have standing to file motions in this case and has been informed that he is not a proper party to this litigation. The government asserts that the court has informed Woldt that it is improper for him to file pleadings as if he was a party. The court has already determined that Woldt has not established statutory standing in this matter because he failed to timely file a verified answer and a verified statement of interest. Docket 114. While Woldt may have filed a verified answer to the amended verified complaint (Docket 11), this is not sufficient to establish statutory standing.
To establish statutory standing, a claimant must comply with the procedural requirements set forth in Supplemental Rule for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions C(6)(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(4)(A). Pursuant to Rule C(6)(a)(i),*fn4 in a civil forfeiture case, a person who asserts an interest in or right against the property that is the subject of the action must file a verified statement identifying the interest or right (A) within 30 days after the earlier of (1) the date of service of the Government's complaint or (2) completed publication of notice under Rule C(4), or (B) within the time the court allows. Further, any person who files a statement of interest or right against the property must serve an answer within twenty days after filing the statement.
Supplemental Rule C(6)(a)(iii).
The requirement in Supplemental Rule C(6) that both a claim and an answer be filed is "plain and unambiguous." United States v. United States Currency Totaling $3,817.49, 826 F.2d 785, 787 (8th Cir. 1987). Strict compliance with Supplemental Rule C(6) requires both a claim and an answer. United States v. Ford 250 Pickup 1990, 980 F.2d 1242, 1245 (8th Cir. 1992). The Eighth Circuit has repeatedly held that it is not an abuse of discretion for district courts to require strict compliance with Supplemental Rule C(6). See Ford 250 Pickup, 980 F.2d at 1244 (affirming a district court's finding that the claimant did not have standing to assert the claim because he had not filed an answer in accordance with Supplemental Rule C(6) and had not demonstrated excusable neglect, mitigating circumstances, or a good faith attempt to comply); United States v. One Parcel of Property Located at RR2, Independence, Iowa, 959 F.2d 101, 104 (8th Cir. 1992) (affirming a district court's grant of default judgment because the claimants' claims did not comply with the verification requirement of Supplemental Rule C(6) and the government's motions to strike claimants' claims and answers were unresisted); and United States v. Beechcraft Queen Airplane, 789 F.2d 627, 630 (8th Cir. 1986) (affirming a district court's holding that required strict compliance with Supplemental Rule C(6) and struck the claimant's answer because it was not preceded by a verified claim). The Second Circuit has also noted that strict compliance with Supplemental Rule C(6) is "typically required." United States v. Amiel, 995 F.2d 367, 371 (2d Cir. 1993).
Although Woldt filed an answer in this case, he did not timely file a verified statement identifying his interest or right in the defendant bank accounts. Woldt failed to file a verified statement identifying his interest or right in the seized property within thirty days of the service of the government's complaint or completed publication notice as required by Rule C(6). Instead, Woldt filed a claim of right or title statement of interest on November 19, 2007, almost two years after the government filed its amended verified complaint and published notice of the civil forfeiture action. Docket 97. Accordingly, Woldt has not established statutory standing in this case. Consequently, he is not a proper party to this action and is not entitled to file pleadings. The court instructs Woldt again that if he files pleadings in the future in contravention of the court's rulings that he is not a legal party to this matter, the court will consider imposing monetary or other sanctions against Woldt pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11.*fn5
Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that Woldt's motion for immediate dismissal and return of all funds plus interest (Docket 178) is denied.