United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. VARLAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
criminal case is before the Court on third-party
petitioner's Seized Asset Claim Form [Doc. 331]. Also
before the Court is the government's Motion to Dismiss
Third-Party Petitioner's Claim [Doc. 364]. Third-party
petitioner did not respond to the government's motion,
and her time in which to do so has passed. E.D. Tenn. L.R.
September 1, 2015, defendant Lucero Beltran-Chimal was
charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, among
other charges, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) [Doc.
84]. Subsequently, the Court entered an agreed order of
forfeiture for Beltran-Chimal [Doc. 256], forfeiting her
interest in certain monies seized from an address in North
Carolina. The government submits that as required by 21
U.S.C. § 853(n) and Rule 32.2(b) of the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure, it sent notice to all parties known to
have a possible interest in this property, and also published
notice of the forfeiture, including publication on the
internet on a government operated website for at least thirty
(30) consecutive days [Doc. 365 p. 2].
December 28, 2016, Ana Valencia (hereinafter
“petitioner”) filed a Seized Asset Claim Form
[Doc. 331]. In her claim form, petitioner asserts that she is
the owner of $5, 520 to be forfeited by Beltran. Petitioner
contends that she is the owner of this property because
petitioner gave that money to Beltran as a gift, and as
payment for dishes which petitioner purchased from Beltran.
The government moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that
petitioner's claim should be dismissed because petitioner
failed to meet the requirements of 21 U.S.C. §§
853(n)(3) and (n)(6) [Doc. 365].
order to submit a valid third-party claim, a petitioner must
comply with 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(3), which mandates that a
petitioner “set forth the nature and extent of the
petitioner's right, title, or interest in the property,
the time and circumstances of the petitioner's
acquisition of the right, title, or interest in the property,
any additional facts . . . and the relief sought.” 21
U.S.C. § 853(n)(3). “Federal courts require strict
compliance with the pleading requirements of §
853(n)(3), primarily because there is a substantial danger of
false claims in forfeiture proceedings.” United
States v. Carvajal, No. 3:15-cr-56, 2016 WL 7191687, at
*1 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 12, 2016) (quoting United States v.
Burge, 829 F.Supp.2d 664, 667 (C.D. Ill. 2011)).
case, petitioner claims ownership in the seized property
because she wrote checks to Beltran as a gift and to pay for
dishes petitioner purchased from Beltran. Petitioner fails,
however, to assert that she retained any right, title, or
interest in the funds once she transferred them to Beltran.
Therefore, petitioner has not set forth the “nature and
extent” of any “right, title, or interest”
in the money. See 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(3);
see also United States v. Salti, 579 F.3d
656, 670 (6th Cir. 2009) (“The allegation that the
funds to be forfeited were previously in [the claimant's]
name does not, by itself, confer standing [in a forfeiture
proceeding].”). Because petitioner does not set forth
the “nature and extent of the . . . right, title, or
interest in the property, ” the Court will dismiss the
claim for failing to comply with the requirements of §
853(n)(3). See United States v. Kokko, No.
06-20065-CR, 2007 WL 2209260, at *5 (S.D. Fla. July 30, 2007)
(“Failure to file a petition that satisfies the
requirements of § 853(n)(3) is grounds for dismissal
without a hearing.”).
petitioner's application fails to state a claim under 21
U.S.C. § 853(n)(6). “In order to survive
dismissal, a third-party claim must ‘provide enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” See United States v. Castro-Reyes,
No. 3:15-cr-56, 2017 WL 706201, at *2 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 22,
2017) (citing United States v. Church & Dwight Co.,
Inc., 510 F. App'x 55, 57 (2nd Cir. 2013)).
Petitioner's claim, even taken as true, states only that
she gave the relevant funds to Beltran as a gift and as
payment for dishes, and it fails to provide any facts that
make petitioner's claim to any interest in the property
plausible. Therefore, in addition to failing to comply with
the requirements of 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(3),
petitioner's application also fails to state a claim for
relief that is plausible under 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(6).
See Castro-Reyes, 2017 WL 706201, at *2; see
also United States v. Madoff, 826 F.Supp.2d 699, 703
(S.D.N.Y. 2011) (finding in a case where claimants had given
the defendant an irrevocable gift, that claimants failed to
state a plausible claim to any legal interest in the gifted
the government's Motion to Dismiss Third-Party
Petitioners' claim [Doc. 364] is GRANTED, and