United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE THE
CLAIM AND ANSWER OF YIN YE YANG AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT (DOC. 22)
K. OBERTO. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
in rem forfeiture action, Plaintiff United States of America
(the “Government” or “Plaintiff) filed a
Motion to Strike the Claim and Answer filed by Yin Ye Yang
(“Yang” or “Claimant”) on the basis
that Yang did not provide Court-ordered discovery. (Doc. 22.)
In the Motion, the Government also seeks an entry of default
judgment against Yang and a final judgment of forfeiture
against all known and unknown potential claimants to the
Approximately $147, 900.00 in U.S. Currency (the
“Defendant Currency”). No opposition to the
Government's motion has been filed, and the time to file
an opposition has expired. The Court reviewed the motion and
supporting document and found the matter suitable for
decision without argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g); thus
the May 24, 2017, hearing was vacated. (Doc. 24.) For the
reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the
10, 2016, the Government filed a complaint alleging that, on
October 24, 2015, a Fresno County Sheriff Deputy was
traveling southbound on Interstate 5, approaching Jayne
Avenue in Fresno County, California, when he observed a
silver Honda Odyssey (California license #7LEH945) following
too closely to the vehicle directly in front of it, in
violation of California Vehicle Code § 21703. (Doc. 1.
(“Compl.”) ¶6.) As the deputy prepared to
initiate a traffic stop on the Honda, the Honda quickly and
unsafely changed lanes in violation of California Vehicle
Code § 21658(a). (Id. ¶ 7.)
deputy moved behind the Honda and conducted a traffic stop.
(Id. ¶ 8) The deputy made contact with the
driver and sole occupant of the Honda, Yang, and advised Yang
of the purpose for the stop. (Id.) Yang presented
the deputy with a paper “Interim Driver License”
issued from the State of California and a New York Driver
license (707541070) with a hole punched through the license.
deputy asked Yang whether there was anything illegal in his
vehicle and Yang stated that there was not. (Id.
¶ 9.) When asked whether Yang would mind if the vehicle
was searched, Yang answered, “No, ” and exited
the vehicle from the driver's side door. (Id.)
Yang then opened the driver's side rear sliding door and
stated, “Go ahead.” (Id.) As the van
door was opened, the deputy observed that the middle row of
seats had been removed from within the vehicle.
(Id.) When asked why the seats were taken out, Yang
stated that earlier he had moved a television. (Id.)
deputy observed a factory manufacturer's storage area in
the floorboard of the vehicle. (Id. ¶ 11.) The
storage area was situated in the middle of the vehicle, right
behind the front seats. (Id.) The storage area was
opened and the deputy observed a pair of tennis shoes and a
black and blue Bloomingdales paper bag. (Id.) As the
deputy reached for the bag, he observed that underneath the
bag was a “Physician's Statement &
Recommendation” for Yang. (Id.)
deputy opened the paper bag and observed a white plastic bag
tied in a knot. (Id. ¶ 12.) In the white
plastic bag, the deputy observed the Defendant Currency,
packaged in $100 bills. (Id.) The deputy opened the
plastic bag and observed that the Defendant Currency had been
wrapped with two separate, slightly translucent, white
plastic bags. (Id.) When the deputy removed the
white bag from the Bloomingdales bag, a Medical Marijuana
Recommendation Identification card fell out of the bag.
(Id.) The card was issued to Yang on September 15,
plastic bags were opened and the deputy observed three large
bundles of currency wrapped in rubber bands. (Id.
¶ 13.) On top of the bundles of the Defendant Currency
was a handwritten note on a torn piece of paper.
(Id.) The note appeared to read “147,
000.” (Id.) Yang was asked whether the money
belonged to him. (Id. ¶ 14.) Yang said that it
did. (Id.) When asked how much money was in the bag,
Yang stated “$140, 000.” (Id.)
deputy resumed his search of the vehicle and located a
notepad on the center console. (Id. ¶ 15.) The
notepad appeared to have some notations with both dollar
amounts and some type of Chinese writing. (Id.) In
the back storage area, behind the rear seat, the deputy
located a one-gallon container of liquid fertilizer with the
label “Bud Ignitor.” (Id.)
about 8:00 p.m., a narcotic canine detective arrived and
utilized the narcotic detecting canine “Kash” to
conduct a sniff search for the presence of the odor of
narcotics. (Id. ¶ 18.) The detective was
advised by the deputy of the nature of the traffic stop and
that Yang had provided consent to the search the vehicle.
(Id. ¶ 24.) The detective conducted a safety
inspection of the vehicle for anything that could cause
potential harm to Kash. (Id.) Kash was then directed
to begin his sniff at the exterior of the vehicle.
(Id.) Kash commenced his search at the front left
corner of the vehicle, and moved to the passenger's
sliding door. (Id.) The detective opened the
driver's side door and the passenger's sliding door
and allowed Kash to enter the vehicle. (Id.) Kash
went to the rear passenger floorboard area and continued his
search. (Id.) Kash sniffed directly above a
manufactured storage compartment located on the floorboard
behind the center console and gave a positive and final
response to the odor of narcotics. (Id.) The
compartment was opened and Kash placed his head inside the
compartment and gave a positive and final response to the
odor of narcotics on a white plastic grocery bag inside the
approximately 8:00 p.m., a second deputy arrived on scene to
provide assistance. (Id. ¶ 25.) The second
deputy contacted Yang and determined that he spoke English
but that Yang's dominant language was Cantonese.
(Id.) The second deputy contacted a general mobile
interpretation service through AT&T Translator, and was
put in touch with Flora #225817, who was fluent in Cantonese.
(Id.) The second deputy had Flora translate his
conversation with Yang to Cantonese for Yang. (Id.)
gave a confused description of his trip and the reason for
his possession of the Defendant Currency. (Id.)
Yang's story was inconsistent and vague. (Id.)
The second deputy asked Yang from where he was coming.
(Id. ¶ 26.) Yang stated that he was coming from
Oakland and driving to San Gabriel. (Id.) Yang
stated that he was in Oakland just for the day.
(Id.) When asked what he was doing with so much
money in his car, Yang replied that back in 2009 he was
living in New York and was running a restaurant.
(Id.) Yang explained that he loaned a friend of his,
by the name of “Pak, ” several supply items for
which Pak never paid Yang. (Id.) Initially, Yang
tried to explain that all of the Defendant Currency did not
belong to him but only part of it did. (Id.) Yang
stated that some of the money was from Pak and that some
belonged to other people to whom Yang owed money.
(Id.) Yang then changed his story and said all of
the Defendant Currency belonged to him. (Id.)
was then asked if he knew Pak from New York, whether Yang had
lent Pak the supplies in New York, and how Yang found out
that Pak was in California with money for Yang to collect.
(Id.) Yang stated that he knew Pak was in California
and that he had gone to Oakland to pick up the Defendant
Currency. (Id.) When asked whether he met with Pak
to pick up the money, Yang stated that he did not meet with
Pak. (Id.) Yang stated he contacted Pak and Yang was
supposed to meet him at an unknown parking lot; instead, a
subject Yang only knew of as “Jong” arrived and
gave Yang the Defendant Currency. (Id.) Yang
continued by saying he does not know Jong and only met him
that day. (Id.)
was asked whether if he presently lived in California or in
New York. (Id. ¶ 27.) Yang stated that he spent
most of his time in New York but stayed in California. Yang
was asked how he planned to move the Defendant Currency from
California to New York. (Id.) Yang then changed his
story again and said the Defendant Currency was to be used
for a down payment on a house and for gas. (Id.)
Yang also stated he was trying to bring his wife and child
from China to the United States. (Id.) The second
deputy asked Yang where he worked, which was difficult for
Yang to explain. (Id.) All the deputy could get from
Yang was that he worked as a truck driver for a warehouse.
was then asked why his Medical Marijuana recommendation was
in the same bag as the Defendant Currency. (Id.
¶ 28.) Yang did not reply and only said he had been
involved in a car accident and now takes marijuana for pain.
(Id.) Yang was asked whether the Defendant Currency
was from the sales of narcotics, and Yang responded it was
not. (Id.) When asked how much money he had in his
possession, Yang answered that he had $150, 010.00.
(Id.) After opening the packaging, the detective
observed a white envelope that had been torn and the number
147, 900 written in green ink on the torn envelope.
(Id. ¶ 29.) This number was consistent with the
total amount of the Defendant Currency the detectives seized
from Yang. (Id.)
10, 2016, the Government filed a civil action for forfeiture
in rem pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) of the
Defendant Currency. (Doc. 1). On June 22, 2016, the Court
issued a Warrant for Arrest of Articles In Rem for
the Defendant Currency. (Doc. 3.) The Warrant for Arrest of
the Defendant Currency was executed on June 29, 2016. (Doc.
notice of the action and the arrest of the Defendant Currency
was published via the official internet government forfeiture
site (www.forfeiture.gov) for at least 30
consecutive calendar days. (Doc. 5.) Publication began on
June 21, 2016, and proof of such publication was filed with
the Court on July 21, 2016. (Id.)
August 4, 2016, Yang filed a Claim for the Defendant
Currency. (Doc. 6.) Yang filed his Answer to the complaint on
September 28, 2016. (Doc. 12.) No other person has filed a
claim for the Defendant Currency.
ascertain the basis for Yang's claim, on August 5, 2016,
the United States served a set of Special Interrogatories on
him pursuant to Rule G(6) of the Supplemental Rules for
Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions
(hereafter “Supplemental Rules”). (See
Doc. 19-1, ¶ 2 and Ex. A.) The special interrogatories
sought information pertaining to “the claimant's
identity and relationship to the defendant property . . .
.” Supplemental Rule G(6)(a).
submitted his responses to the Rule G(6) Special
Interrogatories on September 28, 2016, following an initial
extension of time requested by Yang's counsel.
(See Doc. 19-1 ¶¶ 3-4 and Ex. B.) In
response to Special Interrogatory numbers 6 through 9, 14,
and 15, Yang stated that the Defendant Currency came from
relatives for the purchase of a residence, but was still
working to obtain more information which Yang stated would be
provided at a later date. (Id. ¶ 4 and Ex. B.)
In these same responses, Yang objected to several ...