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United States v. $41

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

November 25, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$41, 320 U.S. CURRENCY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, JR., District Judge.

The United States filed a complaint for forfeiture of $41, 320. ECF No. 1. Abdul Zakaria, [1] pro se, has filed a verified claim for the money's return. ECF Nos. 32, 37. Pending are Zakaria's motions to dismiss the forfeiture complaint, or for summary judgment, ECF No. 33, and for relief from the government's interrogatories, ECF No. 40; and the government's motions to dismiss Zakaria's verified claim, ECF No. 34, and for leave to amend or correct the complaint, ECF No. 39. No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the government's motion to dismiss Zakaria's claim for failure to comply with Supplemental Rule G(5)(A), [2] and Zakaria's motion to dismiss the complaint, or for summary judgment, will be denied as moot; the government's motion for leave to amend, and Zakaria's motion for relief from the government's interrogatories, will be granted.[3]

I. Background[4]

On May 13, 2011, Zakaria was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration for possession with intent to distribute heroin. ECF No. 39-2 at 3, 7.[5] On July 7, 2011, he was indicted for conspiracy to distributed heroin. Id. On July 29, 2011, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at the home of Karen Kimble, Zakaria's wife, for evidence of perjury and marriage fraud. Id. at 8.[6] Officers seized $41, 320.00 from a gym bag. Id. Kimble initially said that the money did not belong to her, and she had obtained it from a person named "Enoch" at her husband's direction. Id. on September 21, 2011, Zakaria pled guilty to the conspiracy charge. Id. [7] On September 30, 2011, Kimble asserted that she owned the money and had obtained it as part of an insurance settlement for an electrical fire in her home; she said that she and Zakaria planned to use the money to buy a truck. Id.

On December 8, 2011, Zakaria told law enforcement agents that Kimble had given him the seized money to start a business, and he had given the money to Enoch to hold. Id. at 8-9. He had asked Kimble to meet Enoch to retrieve the money. Id. at 9. However, he denied that he planned to use the money to buy a truck. Id. He also acknowledged that he had not started the company with the money. Id.

On May 14, 2012, the government filed a verified complaint for forfeiture of the money under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(A) and (C) and 18 U.S.C. § 983. ECF No. 1. Kimble filed a claim and answer to the complaint, ECF No. 3, which, on September 25, 2012, she withdrew, ECF No. 6. On November 15, 2012, the government moved for forfeiture of the property. ECF No. 7. On November 16, 2012, the Court issued a final order of forfeiture. ECF No. 8.

On October 3, 2013, Zakaria moved to set aside the forfeiture, on grounds that he had not received adequate-specifically, written - notice of the forfeiture proceeding, in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. See ECF No. 9 ¶¶ 7-9, 11-12. On October 30, 2013, the Court denied the motion. ECF No. 12.

On December 5, 2013, Zakaria moved for relief from the Court's October 30, 2013 judgment, arguing, inter alia, that the Court incorrectly concluded that he had received constitutionally sufficient notice. ECF No. 18 at 3. On March 25, 2014, the Court vacated its order of forfeiture, because it had been entered without constitutionally adequate notice. ECF Nos. 24, 25. The Court ordered the government to show cause why the property should not be returned to Zakaria. ECF No. 25.

On March 25, 2014, the government filed a letter to the Court, stating that because the Court had reopened the original forfeiture proceeding, the government need not commence a new proceeding. ECF No. 26 at 2. The government stated that it would send notice to Zakaria within ten days. Id.

On April 15, 2014, Zakaria filed a verified claim for the property, ECF No. 32, and a motion to dismiss the government's complaint, ECF No. 33. That same day, the government filed a motion to dismiss Zakaria's claim for failure to comply with Supplemental Rule G(5)(A). ECF No. 34.[8]

On April 28, 2014, Zakaria filed an amended verified claim for the property. ECF No. 37. In his claim, Zakaria states that the funds "derived from a home-owners insurance settlement" following an electrical fire in Kimble's home, and that "he is the sole legal, and legitimate owner." Id. at 2. On March 6, 2008, Encompass Insurance paid $249, 244.65 for loss of contents. Id. [9] The "funds were deposited into a joint checking account at Wachovia Bank." Id. After repairing the home, "the remaining funds were divided[, ] and shares were transferred into separate, personal savings accounts with ING Direct." Id.

On May 27, 2014, the government moved to amend or correct its forfeiture complaint. ECF No. 39.[10] On July 14, 2014, Zakaria opposed. ECF No. 46.[11]

On June 2, 2014, Zakaria moved for relief from the government's first set of interrogatories. ECF No. 40. On June 5, 2014, the government opposed. ECF No. 41. On ...


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