The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER CONTINUING THE HEARING ON CLAIMANTS' MOTION FOR STAY AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR INTERLOCUTORY SALE UNTIL JANUARY 11, 2012 (Docket Nos. 30, 32)
On October 18, 2011, Claimants Edwan Dablan, Nasry Dablan, Hana Dablan, and Nabila Dablan (collectively, "Claimants") filed a motion to stay the proceedings in this civil forfeiture action pending the outcome of a criminal action currently pending against Claimant Edwan Dablan ("Edwan"). (Doc. 30.) The civil forfeiture action seeks to forfeit currency and vehicles.
On November 16, 2011, Plaintiff United States of America ("Plaintiff") filed an opposition to Claimants' motion and a motion for an interlocutory sale of the defendant vehicles. (Docs. 31, 32.) Claimants did not file either a reply brief or an opposition brief as to Plaintiff's motion for an interlocutory sale.
The Court has determined that in the interest of judicial economy, these motions shall be considered together. However, for the reasons set forth below, before the Court can make a determination as to the motions, Plaintiff is ORDERED to provide supplemental briefing concerning the motion for interlocutory sale.
On July 5, 2011, Plaintiff filed a verified complaint for forfeiture in rem seeking the forfeiture of approximately $7,562 in currency and eleven (11) vehicles. (Doc. 1.) The complaint alleges that the defendant currency and vehicles were furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical, are proceeds traceable to such an exchange, or were used or intended to be used to facilitate a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 et seq. (Doc. 1, ¶ 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Edwan engaged in the illegal sale of narcotics and then engaged in numerous structured currency transactions in an attempt to conceal the money generated from the illegal activity. (Doc. 1, ¶ 5.) Plaintiff asserts that Edwan used the money to purchase property and vehicles and, as such, the defendant currency and vehicles are subject to forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) and 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(A). (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 1, 5.)
On September 26, 2011, Claimants filed verified claims in civil forfeiture alleging innocent ownership interests in the defendant currency and vehicles. (Docs. 25-28.) On October 18, 2011, Claimants filed the instant motion to stay. (Doc. 30.) Claimants assert that Edwan is currently awaiting trial in a criminal case and that this action should be stayed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(g) until the conclusion of the criminal case.
On November 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed an opposition to Claimants' motion and a motion for interlocutory sale. (Docs. 31, 32.) Plaintiff contends that it would be prejudiced if this case was stayed, as the value of the numerous seized defendant vehicles continues to diminish and Plaintiff is subject to continuing monthly storage and maintenance fees currently totaling over $35,000.00. Plaintiff asserts that it has communicated to Claimants' counsel that Plaintiff needs to sell the vehicles before proceeding with or agreeing to a stay of the litigation. Claimants' counsel informed Plaintiff that Claimants would not to agree to a sale; however, Plaintiff asserts that there has been no confirmation that Claimants' counsel discussed the matter with Claimants or that a firm negative answer was received.
Also on November 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion for an interlocutory sale of the defendant vehicles pursuant to the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions ("Supplemental Rules"), contending that an interlocutory sale is necessary since the value of the defendant vehicles is at risk of depreciation and the costs of maintenance and storage would exceed the value of the vehicles during their custody pending litigation. Plaintiff indicates that it will agree to a subsequent stay of the proceedings provided that the interlocutory sale is permitted.
Claimants did not file either a reply to the motion to stay or an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for an interlocutory sale.
A. Additional Information is Required Regarding Plaintiff's Motion for Interlocutory Sale Plaintiff seeks a Court order authorizing an interlocutory sale of the defendant vehicles. Claimants do not oppose the motion.
Plaintiff asserts that an interlocutory sale is appropriate. Supplemental Rule E(9) pertains to the general provisions of action in ...