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United States v. $5

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

October 20, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$5, 869.00 U.S. CURRENCY; and $27, 711.90 U.S. FUNDS FROM JP MORGAN CHASE BANK ACCOUNT NO. XXXXXX0609 and XXXXXX7565, Defendants.

          FINAL ORDER OF FORFEITURE

          ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is a Motion for Forfeiture of Property by Plaintiff United States, ECF No. 39. Plaintiff alleged in a Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem that the Defendants captioned above are subject to forfeiture to the United States pursuant to pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C). ECF No. 1. Having considered the motion and the remaining record, the Court grants the motion and issues a final order of forfeiture regarding the subject property.

         The Court has jurisdiction over this matter by virtue of 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 1355. Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1355.

         The Defendant property being sought for forfeiture is described as follows:

         a. $671.00 U.S. currency seized by U.S. Secret Service (“USSS”), on or about July 9, 2013, from Perry Hico Market in Spokane, Washington, pursuant to a federal search warrant.

         b. $763.00 U.S. currency seized by USSS, on or about July 9, 2013, from Mewael Habte, from his residence in Spokane, Washington, pursuant to a federal search warrant.

         c. $4, 435.00 U.S. currency seized by USSS, on or about July 9, 2013, from Thor Hico Market in Spokane, Washington, pursuant to a federal search warrant.

         d. $27, 711.90 U.S. funds seized by USSS, on or about July 9, 2013, from JPMorgan Chase Bank in Spokane, Washington, from Account No.: XXXXXX0609 held in the name of Mawael Habte dba Mo Market; and, Account No.: XXXXXX7565 held in the name of Mak & Mo, LLC, dba Hico Market, pursuant to federal seizure warrants.

         The Court refers to the above-described property, collectively, as “Defendant property”.

         On March 27, 2014, the USSS executed the Warrant of Arrest In Rem. The returned warrant was filed with the Court under the above cause number on April 15, 2014. ECF No. 5.

         In accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule G(4)(a)(iv)(C), Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions, notice of civil forfeiture was posted on an official government website, www.forfeiture.gov, beginning on January 5, 2014, and ending February 3, 2014. ECF Nos. 22, 22-1 and 22-2. Based upon the internet publication start date of January 5, 2014, the last date to file a timely claim, if direct notice was not received, was March 6, 2014. See ECF No. 22-2 at 1; Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule G(5), Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. To date, no claims have been received or filed pursuant to the internet posting.

         On or about April 18, 2014, the United States sent a copy of the Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem, ECF No. 1, Warrant of Arrest In Rem, ECF No. 5, and Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture, ECF No. 17-1, to known potential claimant MEKONNEN TEKLE GEBRE, via certified mail, return receipt requested, to his last known address. ECF Nos. 17 and 17-1; Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule G(4)(b), Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. Based upon the direct notice service date of April 18, 2014, his claim deadline was May 23, 2014. To date, no claim of interest has been received or filed with the Court, and the time allowed for filing his claim has expired.

         On August 9, 2017, the United States filed its Notice of Default, ECF No. 34, which was served via certified mail upon MEKONNEN TEKLE GEBRE in the care of Attorney Mark D. Hodgson, who represents Mr. Gebre in the related Eastern District of Washington criminal case, United States v. Mekonnen T. Gebre, Cause No. 2:17-CR-51-JLQ. On September 12, 2017, the United States filed its Motion for Entry of Default, ECF No. 35, which was served via regular, first-class U.S. mail, upon MEKONNEN TEKLE GEBRE in the care of Attorney Mark D. Hodgson. To date, no response has been received from Mr. Gebre. On September 13, 2017, a Clerk's Order of Default, ECF No. 36, was entered as to Mr. Gebre's potential interest in the Defendant property.

         On or about April 18, 2014, the United States sent a copy of the Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem, ECF No. 1, Warrant of Arrest In Rem, ECF No. 5, and Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture, ECF No. 18-1, to known potential claimant MAWAEL HABTE, via certified mail, return receipt requested, to his last known address and in the care of Attorney Robert Cossey. ECF Nos. 18 and 18-1. In addition, on or about April 18, 2014, copies of Verified Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem, ECF No. 1, Warrant of Arrest In Rem, ECF No. 5, and Notice of Complaint for Forfeiture, were sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the Perry Hico Market and the Thor Hico Market. ECF Nos. 20, 20-1, 21, and 21-1. Plaintiff represents that MAWAEL HABTE is the owner of the two markets. On May 23, 2014, MAWAEL HABTE filed a Claim, ECF No. 8. On June 16, ...


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