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United States v. Armalite

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

October 22, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ARMALITE, MODEL AR-18, 5.56mm CALIBER RIFLE, SERIAL NUMBER: S3731, and MODEL M-2 TYPE, .50 BMG CALIBER RIFLE, SERIAL NUMBER 1146433 Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon the Government's Motion for Summary Judgment Against George Dodson. (Docket No. 10.) Dodson, who attempted to file a claim in this in rem action, has not responded, and the time to do so has elapsed. Accordingly, this matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons enumerated below, the Court will GRANT the Government's Motion.

Background

In this civil forfeiture action, the Government seeks to forfeit and condemn to the use and benefit of the United States of America the two defendant firearms: Armalite, Model AR-18, 5.56mm caliber rifle, serial number: S3731; and a Model M2-type, .50 BMG caliber rifle, serial number: 1146433. (Docket No. 1 at 1.)

These firearms were found in a storage unit rented to Dodson in Louisville, Kentucky. When Dodson failed to pay rent on the unit for over three months, his contract with J-Town Village Office and Storage deemed the property inside the unit abandoned. The storage company contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF") regarding the abandoned firearms, and on February 20, 2013, agents seized such property pursuant to the National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C. §5801 et seq. (Docket No. 1 at 2.)

On June 27, 2013, the ATF Firearms Technology Branch tested the firearms and concluded that they constituted machine guns according to 26 U.S.C. § 5845(a)(6) and (b). Each is subject to registration under the National Firearms Act. 26 U.S.C. § 5841, 5845(b). However, neither firearm is registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record ("NFRTR").

In October 2013, the Government filed an in rem action against the defendant firearms and moved the Court to issue a warrant for their arrest and seizure. (Docket No. 1 at 4.) On January 16, 2014, the Court entered the arrest warrant. On January 21, 2014, the Government sent direct notice of the Government's forfeiture action to Dodson via certified mail. (Docket Nos. 3, 4.) The notice advised Dodson as follows:

Any person who assert an interest in the defendant property may contest the forfeiture by filling a claim in the United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky, 600 W. Broadway, Louisville, KY 404202, under case UNITED STATES OF AMERICA VS. ARMALITE, MODEL AR-18, 5.56mm CALIBER RIFLE, ETL AL., within 35 days of the aforementioned date.
In accordance with Rule G(5)(i)(a) of the Supplemental Rules, "[t]he claim must: (A) identify the specific property claimed; (B) identify the claimant and state the claimant's interest in the property; (C) be signed by the claimant under penalty of perjury; and (D) be served on the government attorney designated under rule G(4)(a)(ii)(C) or (b)(ii)(D)."
Additionally, a claimant must serve and file an answer to the complaint or a motion under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure within 21 days after filing the claim. Rule 12 and Supplemental Rule G(5)(b). Failure to strictly comply with the Supplemental Rules and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure may result in your claim being dismissed.
Claims and Answers are to be filed with the Clerk, United States District Court, named above, with a copy thereof sent to Assistant United States Attorney, Amy M. Sullivan, 717 W. Broadway, Louisville, Kentucky 40202.

(Docket No. 4-1 at 2.)

Based on the timeframe set forth by the Notice, Dodson's claim was due by February 28, 2014, and his answer by March 21, 2014. Dodson instead filed several letters acknowledging his late response, requesting the appointment of a public defender, and levying a number of accusations, varying in relevance, against the Government. ( See Docket Nos. 7, 8, 9, and 11.) Among Dodson's claims is that one of the guns was a "dummy item, made of legal scrap parts" and is not subject to the National ...


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