United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DEFAULT JUDGMENT OF FORFEITURE
DUBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action comes before the Court upon the United States'
Motion, pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, for entry of a Default Judgment of
Forfeiture for the $76, 604.55 in U.S. Currency seized from a
J.P. Morgan Chase account ending in 1070 held by an
individual identified as Z.X. (Defendant Funds).
United States filed a verified complaint for civil forfeiture
against the Defendant Funds pursuant to Title 18, United
States Code, Section 981(a)(1)(A), which subjects to civil
forfeiture any property, real or personal, involved in a
transaction or attempted transaction in violation of Title
18, United States Code, Section 1956 (regarding the
laundering of monetary instruments) and any property
traceable to such property. Doc. 1. The Defendant Funds,
identified as a defendant in paragraph 2(13) of the verified
complaint, are currently in the custody of Customs and Border
Protection. Docs. 15, 83.
on December 22, 2016, through and including January 20, 2017,
the United States published notice of the present action on
its official website, www.forfeiture.gov, as
required by Supplemental Rule G(4)(a)(i) & (iv)(C) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. 65.
addition, on December 20, 2016, in accordance with the
requirements of Rule G(4)(b), the United States sent notice
of this forfeiture action to Zuowu Xie, the listed account
holder and only known potential claimant to the Defendant
Funds, via certified mail. Doc. 49. The certified mail was
returned to the United States on or about February 7, 2017,
as “unclaimed” after notice had been left. Doc.
77. On or about February 13, 2017, the United States sent an
amended notice of this forfeiture via certified mail to two
other potential addresses for Zuowu Xie, which were returned
as undeliverable. One was returned to the United States on or
about March 7, 2017 and the other was returned to the United
States on or about March 9, 2017. Docs. 99, 105 and 106.
of 2018, the United States was contacted by Sechyi Laiu, an
attorney in Houston, Texas stating that he represented and
was calling on behalf of Zuowu Xie. Mr. Laiu agreed to accept
service of the notice of forfeiture, and on July 6, 2018,
Plaintiff sent notice of this forfeiture via certified mail
to Xie's attorney (doc. 141), where it was successfully
delivered on or about July 9, 2018.
Notices of Forfeiture advised that, in order to contest the
United States' civil forfeiture complaint, a claimant was
required to file a claim in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Alabama no later than 35 days
after the date the notice was sent, and file an answer no
later than 21 days after filing a claim. Docs. 49, 99 and
141. More specifically, the Notice sent to Mr. Laiu for Zuowu
Xie advised that Xie's deadline for filing a claim was
August 10, 2018. Doc. 141, p. 2. The Notice further
instructed Xie that any claim and answer was to be filed with
the Office of the Clerk, United States District Court,
Southern District of Alabama, 113 St. Joseph Street, Mobile,
Alabama 36602, with a copy thereof sent to Assistant United
States Attorney Daryl A. Atchison, 63 S. Royal Street, Suite
600, Mobile, Alabama 36602. Id.
filed a claim, or otherwise appeared to contest the
forfeiture, and the time to do so expired. On February 11,
2019, the United States filed a motion for entry of default
against the Defendant Funds and Zuowu Xie. Doc. 178. On
February 19, 2019, the Clerk entered the requested default
against the Defendant Funds and Zuowu Xie. Doc. 179.
default has been entered, the factual allegations of the
United States' verified complaint are now deemed admitted
concerning the Defendant Funds. See Giovanno v.
Fabec, 804 F.3d 1361, 1366 (11th Cir. 2015);
Grant v. Pottinger-Gibson, 725 Fed.Appx. 772, 774
(11th Cir. 2018); and United States v.
Approximately $66, 470, Case No: 6:17-cv-2042-Orl-28KRS,
2018 WL 1525957, *2 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 13, 2018), adopted
and confirmed, 2018 WL 1524401, *1 (Mar. 28, 2018).
Those factual allegations support a reasonable belief that
the United States would be able to meet its burden of proof
at trial as to the Defendant Funds under 18 U.S.C. §
ADJUDGED and DECREED that the United States' motion is
GRANTED, It is FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), judgment of default is hereby
entered against the Defendant Funds and Zuowu Xie. Any
further claims or statements of interest are time-barred.
FURTHER ORDERED that all right, title, and interest in the
Defendant Funds is hereby forfeited to the United States of
America, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(A) and
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), and clear title to
the Defendant ...