United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
C. Cacheris, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
and/or Default Judgment [Dkt. 12] filed by Plaintiff United
States of America (the "Government"). The
Government filed this civil forfeiture action pursuant to 31
U.S.C. §§5317 and 5332, seeking the forfeiture of
$61, 770 in U.S. Currency that customs officials seized at
Washington Dulles International Airport. Because there is no
genuine dispute as to a material fact and the Government is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the Court grants the
Government's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
Konate is a native and citizen of Guinea in West Africa In
2010, Mr. Konate served as the transitional President of
Guinea following a military coup. Subsequently, Mr. Konate
served as General Commander of the security forces for the
African Union. In connection with his employment under a
foreign government, Mr. Konate applied for and received a G-4
visa to visit the United States.
about June 15, 2013, Mr. Konate traveled on an international
flight to Washington Dulles International Airport, which is
located in Loudoun County and within the Eastern District of
Virginia. Upon his arrival in the United States, Mr. Konate
provided a customs form to an officer from Customs and Border
Protection ("CBP"). On this customs form, Mr.
Konate falsely represented that he was not carrying over $10,
000 in U.S. currency. Mr. Konate also willfully made a false
statement to a CBP officer by verbally confirming that he was
not carrying over $10, 000. Following a series of searches of
Mr. Konate's luggage, CBP discovered a total of $64, 770
in U.S. currency. Mr. Konate was granted a humanitarian
release of $3, 000 and the remaining $61, 770 (hereinafter,
the "Defendant Currency") is in the custody of CBP.
11, 2015, the Government filed a Verified Complaint for
Forfeiture in Rem, seeking to enforce the forfeiture
of the Defendant Currency. On June 18 2015, the Government
published a notice of civil forfeiture, as required by
Supplemental Rule G(4)(a)(iv)(C) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. [See Dkt. 4.] On June 30, 2015, Mr.
Konate submitted a claim of interest, in which he asserted
that he "is the owner of the [Defendant] Currency and
sole claimant." [Dkt. 5.]
8, 2015, the Court granted Mr. Konate's unopposed Motion
to Stay the civil forfeiture proceeding until the resolution
of the criminal proceeding against him. The order stated that
Mr. Konate must "file all responsive pleadings no later
than 30 days from entry of a final order" in the
criminal case. [Dkt. 9.] Subsequently, on September 8, 2015,
the Court granted the Motion to Withdraw filed by counsel for
Mr. Konate. [Dkt. 11.]
December 1, 2015, Mr. Konate pleaded guilty to one count of
bulk cash smuggling in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5332(a)
and two counts of making material false statements in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Pursuant to a plea
agreement in the criminal case, Mr. Konate "agreed that
$61, 770 had been properly seized" and agreed to waive
his interest in those funds. See United States v.
Konate, No. 1:15-cr-00132-GBL, Plea Agreement [Dkt. 79]
at 8-9. On July 18, 2016, the Court entered judgment in the
more than thirty days had passed since the Court entered
judgment in the criminal proceeding, on November 23, 2016,
the Government filed the Motion for Summary Judgment and/or
Default Judgment in this civil forfeiture proceeding. Because
Mr. Konate is longer represented by counsel and is considered
pro se in this proceeding, the Government's
Motion included a Roseboro Notice pursuant to Local
Civil Rule 7(K). [See Dkt. 12 at 9.] Mr. Konate has
not filed a response to the Government's Motion.
Government's Motion requests summary judgment under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 or, in the alternative,
default judgment under Rule 55. Because Mr. Konate initially
filed a claim and no motion to strike that claim is pending,
the Court will analyze the Government's Motion under Rule
56's summary judgment standard.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court must grant
summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court
views the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986); Askew v. HRFC, LLC, 810 F.3d 263,
266 (4th Cir. 2016).
motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported,
the opposing party has the burden of showing that a genuine
dispute exists. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Dash v.
Mayweather, 731 F.3d 303, 311 (4th Cir. 2013).
"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson, 477 U.S. at
247-48. A fact is "material" if it "might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Id; Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308,
313 (4th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). A dispute is
"genuine" if "a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Libertarian Party
of Va., 718 F.3d at 313 (citation omitted).
"Although the failure of a party to respond to a summary
judgment motion may leave uncontroverted those facts
established by the motion, the district court must still
proceed with the facts it has before it and determine whether
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
based on those uncontroverted facts." Robinson v.
Wix Filtration Corp. LLC, 599 F.3d 403, 409 n.8 (4th
Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).