JOINT STATUS REPORT AND REQUEST TO STAY FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AND ORDER
Plaintiff United States of America and claimants Deborah Brasier and Jess R. Brasier (hereafter "claimants") submit the following Status Report pursuant to the Court's April 2, 2009, order.
(a) Parties: The plaintiff is the United States of America. Claimants alleges they are the owners of the defendant property.
(b) Summary of Facts and Legal Theories: The United States alleges this property is subject to forfeiture to the United States pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 881(a)(4) and (6) because the vehicles were purchased with the proceeds of drug trafficking, and/or because they were used to facilitate the manufacture of marijuana. Specifically, on September 16, 2008, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and deputies from the Butte County Sheriff's Department executed federal search warrants at several locations (57 Nelsier Place, 22 Nelsier Place, and 2091 Debbie Ann Court), associated with the Brasier family.*fn1 During the search at 57 Nelsier Place officers found evidence of an active indoor marijuana growing operation with approximately 150 plants under cultivation in a barn, and another 80 plants under cultivation in a greenhouse. Officers followed a dirt road from 57 Nelsier place to 2091 Debbie Ann Court officer where they found 70 large marijuana plants. During a search at 22 Nelsier Place officers found approximately 90 large marijuana plants.
Officer located the defendant 2004 Mitsubishi Koyker Tractor, the defendant 2004 Terry Trailers Flatbed Trailer hitched to the back of a truck, and the defendant 2008 SPCNS Trailer PTI. A drug-detection dog alerted to the truck. Plaintiff alleges the tractor was used to grade and tend the marijuana gardens, and that the trailers were being used to transport the various equipment, vehicles, and components for the marijuana operation.
(c) Service of Process: Everyone known to have an interest in the defendant property has been served with the Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem, Notice of Complaint, Application and Order for Publication, Lis Pendens, and Court Notices. Claimants filed a claim to the property and an answer to the complaint on April 22, 2009. Accordingly, service is complete.
In addition, notice of the forfeiture was posted on the official government internet site (www.forfeiture.gov) for at least 30 consecutive days, beginning on March 18, 2009, as required by Rule G(4)(a)(iv)(C) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions. A Declaration of Publication was filed on April 20, 2009.
(d) Possible Joinder of Additional Parties: On April 30, 2009, this Court appointed the Federal Defender's Office to represent Jess V. Brasier, and extended the time for filing his claim and answer to June 24, 2009. The Federal Defender's Office represents Jess V. Brasier in the related criminal action, United Stats v. Jess Vernon Brasier and Dean Teskey, 2:08-cr-00453 LKK. Jess V. Brasier will be an additional party if he files a timely claim and answer.
(e) Any Expected or Desired Amendment of Pleadings: None.
(f) Jurisdiction and Venue: The Court has jurisdiction in this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1345, 1355. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1395(b) because the vehicles that are subject to forfeiture were located in this district.
Anticipated Motions with Suggested Law and Motion
The parties request that this case not be scheduled at this time because they are requesting a stay of further proceedings for six months as explained in the following paragraph.
(h) Anticipated Discovery And The Scheduling Thereof: Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981(g)(1) and 981(g)(2) the parties suggest that a stay of further proceedings in this case is necessary. The United States contends that the defendant property was used to facilitate a violation of federal drug laws (cultivation of marijuana) and/or were purchased with the proceeds of drug trafficking, and are therefore forfeitable to the United States. The United States intends to depose claimants about the claims they filed in this case and the facts surrounding the cultivation of marijuana plants on the three locations associated with the Brasier family. If discovery proceeds, claimants would be placed in the difficult position of either invoking their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and losing the ability to protect their claimed interest in the defendant property, or waiving their Fifth Amendment rights and submitting to depositions and potentially incriminating ...