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United States v. Yin

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

October 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN YIN, Defendant. T. ROWE PRICE, Garnishee.

          ORDER

          JAMES L. ROBART, UNITED SIATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendant John Yin's request for a hearing regarding the United States's motion to issue a continuing garnishee order to Garnishee T. Rowe Price. (Request (Dkt. # 9-1).)[1] Mr. Yin challenges the United States's motion (Mot. (Dkt. # 7)) on the grounds that (1) he did not receive proper and timely service; and (2) the property held by T. Rowe Price is exempt as a protected retirement fund. (See generally Request.) Having considered the submissions of the parties and the relevant law, the court DENIES Mr. Yin's request (Dkt. # 9-1) and GRANTS the United States's motion (Dkt. # 7).

         II. BACKGROUND

         On April 14, 2017, Mr. Yin was ordered to pay restitution on a criminal matter in the amount of $3, 445, 589.50. (Fernandez Decl. (Dkt. # 1-1) at 8-9); see United States v. Yin, No. CR16-0314RAJ (W.D. Wash. Apr. 14, 2017). The United States contends that as of July 24, 2017, the balance remains in Ml. (Mot. at 2.)

         On June 20, 2017, the United States applied for an application for a writ of garnishment. (Appl. (Dkt. #1).) The Honorable Judge Robert S. Lasnik issued a writ of continuing garnishment as to T. Rowe Price on June 21, 2017. (6/21/17 Order (Dkt. # 2).) The United States mailed notification of the garnishment proceeding to Mr. Yin on the same day. (Certificate of Service (Dkt. # 5).) T. Rowe Price filed an answer to the writ of garnishment on June 30, 2017, indicating that it had control, custody, and possession of an Individual Retirement Account ("IRA") with an approximate value of $149, 117.63 belonging to Mr. Yin. (Answer (Dkt. # 6) at 6.) Mr. Yin did not file an objection or request for a hearing. (See generally Dkt.)

         On August 7, 2017, the United States filed a motion for a continuing garnishment order directing T. Rowe Price to deposit the entire amount of non-exempt property from the IRA to the United States District Court, Western District of Washington to be credited towards Mr. Yin's criminal restitution judgment. (Mot. at 2-3.) Mr. Yin requested a hearing on August 17, 2017. (See Request.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         The United States argues that Mr. Yin's request for a hearing must be denied for two reasons, each of which independently warrants denial: (1) the request is untimely; and (2) a retirement fund is not exempt from collection. The court agrees and addresses each basis for denial in turn.

         A. Timeliness of Mr. Yin's Request

          A judgment debtor may contest garnishment proceedings by filing a request for a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d) or an objection under 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5). Both of these methods are subject to 20-day time limits. See 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d); 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5). Section 3202 provides that a judgment debtor may request a hearing within 20 days after receiving notice of the initiation of garnishment proceedings. 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d). A judgment debtor can also file an objection to the garnishee's answer and request a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5) within 20 days after receipt of the answer. 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5).

         Mr. Yin filed a request for a hearing on August 17, 2017 (see Request), 57 days after the United States mailed notice of the proceedings to Mr. Yin (see Certificate of Service) and 48 days after T. Rowe Price filed its answer (see Answer). Even considering the time it would have taken the notice and answer to reach Mr. Yin via the United States Postal Service, Mr. Yin filed his request well after the 20-day period during which judgment debtors must file a written objection or request a hearing. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 3202(d), 3205(c)(5).[2]

         Courts have declined to hear similar untimely requests or objections. For example, in United States v. Skeins, an incarcerated pro se defendant filed objections 11 months after the notice of proceedings was mailed and 10 months after the garnishee's answer was filed. No. C14-1457JLR, 2014 WL 5324880, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 17, 2014). Finding no excuse for the defendant's failure to comply with the statutory time limits, the court denied his submission as untimely. Id.; see also United States v. Baldonado, No. 2:05-CR-689 TS, 2010 WL 5252415, at *1 (D. Utah Dec. 16, 2010) (denying as untimely defendant's request for a hearing that "completely missed the 20-day period); United States v. Reynolds, No. CIVA 3:09-CV-2083-L, 2010 WL 1063430, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 19, 2010) (same).

         Mr. Yin's only explanation for his delay is that he did not timely receive notice of the garnishment proceedings. (See Request at 1.) However, the United States filed a Certificate of Service that shows Mr. Yin was served by mail on June 21, 2017. (See generally Certificate of Service.) Such a "signed return of service constitutes prima facie evidence of valid service 'which can be overcome only by strong and convincing evidence.'" SEC v. Internet Solutions for Bus.,509 F.3d 1161, 1166 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting O'Brien v. RJ. O'Brien & Assocs., Inc.,998 F.2d 1394, 1398 (7th Cir. 1993)). Mr. Yin presents no evidence to refute the United States's Certificate of Service, let ...


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