Civil Action No. 18-cv-00707-MSK-MEH
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS
Michael E. Hegarty, United States Magistrate Judge.
Claimant Richard Martinez ("Claimant") files an Unopposed Motion to Stay Proceedings with respect to Defendants 10131 Grape Court, Thornton, Colorado; 2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500, VIN 1GT12UEY3HF104690; $4,563.00 in United States Currency; Men's Rolex Watch; and 2011 Peterbilt 386 Semi-Tractor (collectively, the "identified Defendants"). The Court grants the motion.
Plaintiff initiated this forfeiture action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 881 et seq. on March 26, 2018, seeking the forfeiture of two properties (one held in the name of Claimant) alleged to be used in violation of federal narcotics law. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1. Claimant filed an answer on May 3, 2018, denying the majority of allegations in the Complaint. Answer, ECF No. 13. On July 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint seeking the forfeiture of additional property alleged to be used in an operation to supply "large amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription pain narcotics in the North Denver Metro Area." Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 6, ECF No. 20. Claimant filed an answer to the amended complaint on August 23, 2018, again denying the vast majority of the allegations. Answer to Am. Compl., ECF No. 26. Claimant filed a motion to dismiss two Defendants from the amended complaint on August 29, 2018, ECF No. 28, and the Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger granted that motion, ECF No. 29.
The present motion is unopposed and asks the Court to stay proceedings related to the identified Defendants pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(g)(2). That section provides:
(2) Upon the motion of a claimant, the court shall stay the civil forfeiture proceeding with respect to that claimant if the court determines that-
(A) the claimant is the subject of a related criminal investigation or case;
(B) the claimant has standing to assert a claim in the civil forfeiture proceeding; and
(C) continuation of the forfeiture proceeding will burden the right of the claimant against self-incrimination in the related investigation or case.
When a claimant satisfies all the elements of the statute, he or she is entitled to a stay of pending forfeiture proceedings. United States v. Real Prop. Located at Layton, Utah 84040, No. 1:07-CV-006 TS, 2007 WL 2572385, at *1 (D. Utah Sept. 5, 2007).
Claimant's unopposed motion satisfies the elements of § 981(g)(2), and thus a stay is proper. The statute provides that "[i]n determining whether a criminal case or investigation is 'related' to a civil forfeiture proceeding, the court shall consider the degree of similarity between the parties, witnesses, facts, and circumstances involved in the two proceedings . . . ." Id. § 981(g)(4). Claimant states that he is a defendant in a pending state criminal case in Adams County, Colorado, and the allegations in that case are the "same as the allegations" in the present forfeiture action. Mot. ¶¶ 2-3. Therefore, the Court is persuaded that the pending criminal action in Adams County court is a "related criminal investigation." Claimant states that he has an interest in the identified Defendants. Id. ¶ 1. Claimant further states that "[t]he closeness of the relationship between the allegations in this case and those in the criminal cases place [Claimant] in an unfair dilemma with respect to invoking his rights against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment." Id. ¶ 4. Claimant has sufficiently demonstrated that a stay is proper with respect to the identified Defendants.
Accordingly, Claimant's unopposed Motion to Stay Proceedings related to the identified Defendants [filed September 3, 2018; ECF No. 30] is granted. A temporary stay of all deadlines with respect to the identified Defendants is imposed until further order of the Court. The parties shall file a joint status report on or before October 18, 2018, and on the 18th day of each month thereafter until the conclusion of the state criminal case.
Dated at Denver, Colorado, this 7th day of September, 2018.
BY THE COURT:
Michael E. Hegarty
United States Magistrate Judge