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United States of America v. $3

March 27, 2013

$3,275.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge


Pending before the Court is Plaintiff United States of America ("Government")'s motion for default judgment seeking forfeiture of the interests of Mamie Lee Robbins. This action was brought against Defendant $3,275.00 in U.S. Currency ("defendant property"), constituting money furnished in exchange for a controlled substance that is liable for condemnation and forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6). None of the potential claimants, including Ms. Robbins, have opposed.

The Court found this motion suitable for determination on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L.R. 7.1(d.1). (Doc. 18.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for default judgment. (Doc. 16.)


On September 6, 2011, Escondido Police Department detectives had a state search warrant for Ms. Robbins, her vehicle, and her residence. (Compl. ¶ 3 [Doc. 1].) Ms. Robbins and Ellen Hall were contacted in Ms. Robbins' vehicle in Escondido, California, and detained pursuant to the search warrant. (Id.)

Ms. Robbins admitted possessing methamphetamine on her person, in her vehicle, and her apartment. (Compl. ¶ 4.) A detective retrieved a container from Ms. Robbins' front pocket that contained twenty small baggies that appeared to be marked by weight with a total weight of approximately 35.61 grams of methamphetamine. (Id.) The container also had numerous hydrocodone pills in baggies inside of it. (Id.) Ms. Robbins told the detective that there was more dope in the car and that it was going to be a "sales case". (Id.) The detective found a handbag in the car that contained the following items: (1) $3,275.00 in U.S. Currency, (2) a box containing a baggie with approximately 2.69 grams of methamphetamine in it, (3) packaging materials, (4) a digital scale, and (5) a metal container with approximately 0.79 grams of methamphetamine in it. (Id.)

Ms. Hall told detectives that she had a small bag of methamphetamine, which she pulled her pants pocket. (Compl. ¶ 5.) She said that it was given to her by Ms. Robbins. (Id.) The detectives then went to Ms. Robbins' apartment to finish serving the search warrant. (Compl. ¶ 6.) The detectives noticed several surveillance cameras connected to monitors oriented towards the outside of the apartment. (Id.) Packaging materials and a pay-and-owe sheet were also found. (Id.) Other items found include mail addressed to Ms. Robbins, two digital scales, and approximately 15 grams of methamphetamine. (Id.)

Ms. Robbins said that she did not have another job, and selling drugs is how she makes money. (Compl. ¶ 7.)

Based on training and experience, the narcotics detectives believed "the defendant currency represented the proceeds of selling methamphetamine and was in an amount and denominations consistent with the sales of methamphetamine at that level and that the methamphetamine found on Robbins' person, in her purse, and in her apartment was being distributed and sold for profit." (Compl. ¶ 8.) This opinion is based upon the quantity of methamphetamine, scales, currency, packaging, pay-and-owe sheet, and Ms. Robbins' statements concerning the sales of methamphetamine. (Id.)

Ms. Robbins eventually pled guilty to violating California Health and Safety Code §§ 11378 and 11351, Possession of Methamphetamine for Sale and Possession of Hydrocodone for Sale, in the San Diego Superior Court. (Compl. ¶ 8.)

On March 2, 2012, the Government filed a complaint for forfeiture against the defendant property. (Doc. 1.) On March 8, 2012, an agent of the United States Marshal Service seized and arrested the defendant property under the Court's order appointing him as custodian. (Running ¶ 3.)

On March 6, 2012, the Government sent a Notice of Judicial Forfeiture Proceedings and a of the Complaint for Forfeiture to Mamie Lee Robbins at three different addresses, Jill Wageman, and Ellen Gay Hall as potential claimants. (Running Decl. ¶ 4.) On May 24, 2012, the same notice and complaint was sent to Mamie Lee Robbins at a fourth address as a potential claimant. (Id. ¶ 5.) Notice of this civil forfeiture action was posted on for at least thirty consecutive days beginning on March 7, 2012. (Id. ¶ 6.) No claim or answer has been filed regarding the defendant property. (Id.)

On June 6, 2012, the Clerk of the Court entered default against any and all potential claimants except Mamie Lee Robbins. (Doc. 8.) Thereafter, the Government filed this motion for default judgment. (Doc. 9.) None of the potential claimants have opposed. ...

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