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 $299, 873.70 in U.S. Currency seized from
a Bank of America account ending in 5538 held by an
individual identified as P.Q. (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(1) of the verified
complaint, are currently in the custody of Customs and Border
Protection. (Docs. 1, 3 & 78).
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 or about December 20, 2016, in accordance with
the requirements of Rule G(4)(b), the United States sent
notice of this forfeiture action to Pan Qiang (Default
Claimant), the listed account holder and only known potential
claimant to the Defendant Funds, via certified mail. (Doc.
49, p. 4 & doc. 194, p. 2). The certified mail was
returned to the United States on or about February 3, 2017,
as “Unclaimed/Max Hold Time Expired” on January
14, 2017, according to the USPS tracking confirmation. (Doc.
United States could not locate another address for Default
Claimant within the United States after the first notice
package was unclaimed. (Doc. 194, Ex. A, ¶ 7). However,
the United States found an address in China associated with
the Default Claimant, and on or about November 2, 2018, the
United States sent a second notice of this forfeiture action
to the address located for Pan Qiang in China, via FedEx and
First-Class Mail International. (Id., see
also doc. 165). The FedEx was returned to the United
States on or about December 7, 2018, as “Unable to
deliver shipment, returned to shipper” according to the
FedEx tracking confirmation. (Doc. 194, Ex. A, ¶ 7). The
tracking confirmation also indicates that delivery was
“Refused by recipient” on November 5, 2018.
(Id.) However, the notice package sent by
First-Class Mail International mail was not returned to the
United States. (Id.)
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 and 165).
The first Notice further instructed Default Claimant 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
Christopher J. Bodnar, 63 S. Royal Street, Suite 600, Mobile,
Alabama 36602. (Doc. 49). The second Notice further
instructed the Default Claimant that any claim and answer was
to be filed with the Office of the Clerk, United States
District Court, Southern District of Alabama, 155 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. (Doc. 165.)
filed a claim, or otherwise appeared to contest the
forfeiture, and the time to do so expired. On April 24, 2019,
the United States filed a motion for entry of default against
the Defendant Funds and Pan Qiang. (Doc. 194). On May 7,
2019, the Clerk entered the requested default against the
Defendant Funds and Pan Qiang. (Doc. 195).
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, 773 -
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. § 983(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 Pan Qiang. 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 ...