United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DEFAULT JUDGMENT OF FORFEITURE
V. S. GRANADE, SENIOR 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 $67, 500.00 in U.S. Currency (Defendant
Funds), as well as against Fermin Munoz Guzman aka Fermin
Munoz (Munoz), Miguel Angel Garay-Figueroa aka Garay Figueroa
(Figueroa), Edwar G. Leiva (Leiva), Oscar A.
Rodriguez-Gutierr (Gutierr), and Mily Enid Segarra-Ortiz aka
Mily Segarra (Segarra) (collectively, Default Claimants).
United States filed a verified complaint for civil forfeiture
against the Defendant Funds pursuant to Title 21, United
States Code, Section 881(a)(6), which subjects to civil
forfeiture all money or other things of value furnished or
intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a
controlled substance in violation of the Controlled
Substances Act, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange,
and all money used or intended to be used to facilitate any
violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The Defendant
Funds, identified as a defendant in paragraph 4 of the
verified complaint, are currently in the custody of the
United States Marshal's Service. Docs. 1, 3 & 4.
on March 26, 2019, through and including April 24, 2019, 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. 5.
as documented at length in the United States' Motion for
Entry of Clerk's Default, the United States made
significant efforts to provide direct notice to Default
Claimants and their counsel, The Portela Law Firm, P.C. Doc.
7, pp. 3 - 7; see also docs. 2 & 6. The United
States received confirmation of delivery as to three of the
Default Claimants (Leiva, Segarra and Gutierr) and Default
Claimants' counsel, The Portela Law Firm, P.C.
Id. However, the United States was unable to confirm
receipt of delivery as to Default Claimants Munoz and
Munoz, the sole claimant in the administrative forfeiture
proceeding, the United States attempted to directly notice
him at two different addresses, each time by both certified
mail (return receipt requested) and regular U.S. first class
mail. Doc. 7, p. 8. While the certified mail packages were
returned to the United States without successful delivery,
neither first class mail package was returned and may well
have been delivered. Id. at p. 9. Also, the United
States is not aware of a more current address for Munoz, and
as stated above, his counsel, The Portela Law Firm, did
receive notice from the United States in compliance with Rule
for Figueroa, the United States has made two attempts to
provide notice, each time by both certified mail (return
receipt requested) and first class mail. Doc. 7, p. 9. While
neither attempt via certified mail appears to have been
successful, the first class mail sent both times was not
returned. Id. Those notice packages may well have
been delivered. Id. As with Munoz and the other
Default Claimants, his counsel, The Portela Law Firm, did
receive notice from the United States. Id. Finally,
since Figueroa disclaimed knowledge or ownership of the
Defendant Funds both at the time of the traffic stop and by
affidavit in the administrative proceeding, the notices sent
to Figueroa were simply sent out of an abundance of caution
by the United States. Doc. 7 at p. 9.
the notice packages sent to the Default Claimants and The
Portela Law Firm contained a Notice of Forfeiture Action and
the Verified Complaint for Civil Forfeiture in Rem.
Doc. 9, p. 3.
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. 2 & 6. No
one filed a claim, or otherwise appeared to contest the
forfeiture, and the time to do so expired. Doc. 9, p. 4.
September 3, 2019, the United States filed a motion for entry
of default against the Defendant Funds and Defendant
Claimants. Doc. 7. On September 26, 2019, the Clerk entered
the requested default against the Defendant Funds and
Defendant Claimants. Doc. 8.
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 Defendant
Claimants. Any further claims or statements of interest are
FURTHER ORDERED that all right, title, and
interest in the Defendant Funds is hereby forfeited to the
United States of America, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §
881(a)(6) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), and
clear title to the Defendant ...