United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
REIDINGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on the Government's
Motion to Dismiss Pro Se Petition filed by Garrett
Dale Hatch [Doc. 33].
25, 2018, the Defendant Steven Vincent Thomas White was
stopped by a Buncombe County Sheriff's deputy for a
suspended license plate tag and was placed under arrest for
transporting an open container of liquor and driving with an
expired tag. [Doc. 16 at 1]. A search of the Defendant's
vehicle uncovered a Raven Arms, model P-25, .25 caliber
pistol, serial number 513983, that was loaded with seven
rounds of .25 caliber ammunition. [Id.]. The Raven
Arms pistol was located in a backpack that also contained the
Defendant's wallet. [Id.].
December 4, 2018, the Defendant was charged in a Bill of
Indictment with one count of possession of a firearm and
ammunition after having been convicted of a felony, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). [Doc. 1]. On March
25, 2019, the Defendant pled guilty pursuant to a written
plea agreement to this charge. [Docs. 17, 19]. The Defendant
was sentenced on June 18, 2019, to a term of 24 months'
imprisonment. [Doc. 30].
of his guilty plea, the Defendant consented to the forfeiture
of the Raven Arms pistol and ammunition. [Doc. 23]. The
Consent Order and Judgment of Forfeiture was entered on March
25, 2019. [Id.]. In accordance with 21 U.S.C. §
853(n)(1) and Fed. R. Crim. P. 32.2(b)(6)(C), the Government
posted notice of the forfeiture of the Raven Arms pistol and
ammunition on an official government website
(www.forfeiture.gov) from March 26, 2019 through
April 24, 2019. [Doc. 26]. The Government's notice
provided that any third party claiming an interest in the
forfeited property had to file a petition within 60 days of
the first date of publication, or by May 27, 2019.
March 21, 2019, the Government's attorney received an
email from the Defendant's attorney, in which she advised
that the Defendant's brother, Garrett Dale Hatch, had a
claim to the firearm. On March 28, 2019, after obtaining a
mailing address for Mr. Hatch from the Defendant's
attorney, the Government mailed direct notice of the
forfeiture to Mr. Hatch at his 108 Laurel Loop address, the
same address listed on his Petition. The Government's
notice package, however, was returned as
“unclaimed.” After receiving a phone call from
Mr. Hatch, on May 21, 2019, the Government again mailed
direct notice to Mr. Hatch at his 108 Laurel Loop address.
This time the package was apparently claimed and received by
21, 2019, Mr. Hatch, filed a one-page handwritten pro
se petition asserting a claim with respect to the Raven
Arms pistol and ammunition. [Doc. 32]. In his petition, Mr.
Hatch asserts that his “ownership of the pistol is
based on the fact that approximately 18 months ago the
firearm was detained temporarily and then returned by the
Black Mountain, Sheriff's Department. The order for
return was given by the District Attorney's Office in
Asheville, N.C. ” [Id.].
Government now moves to dismiss Mr. Hatch's Petition. For
grounds, the Government argues that the Petition is untimely
and fails to comply with 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(3). [Doc.
33]. On July 17, 2019, the Government served a copy of its
Motion to Dismiss by mailing a copy to his address of record.
[Doc. 35]. On July 25, 2019, that mailing was returned to the
Government undelivered, with the message “No Such
Street.” [Id.]. The Court notes that this is
the second time that a package that was sent to Mr. Hatch at
his address of record has been returned.
petition filed by a third party claiming interest in property
which has been ordered forfeited to the United States must
set forth the following information: (1) “the nature
and extent of the petitioner's right, title, or
interest” in each of the forfeited properties; (2)
“the time and circumstances of the petitioner's
acquisition of the right, title or interest” in each
property; and (3) “any additional facts supporting the
petitioner's claim, and the relief sought.”
See 21 U.S.C. § 853(n)(3). Here, the Petition
fails to set forth any of this required information.
the Petition appears to be untimely. Mr. Hatch asserted a
claim, at least informally, as early as March 21, 2019.
Pursuant to the notice of forfeiture posted on
www.forfeiture.gov, third parties claiming an
interest in the forfeited property had until May 27, 2019, to
file a petition. Mr. Hatch, however, did not file his
Petition until June 21, 2019. The Petition does not explain
why Mr. Hatch waited so long to file his petition.
the Court notes that the Government has experienced
significant difficulty in contacting Mr. Hatch by mail at his
address of record. Some of the Government's mailings have
been returned as undeliverable; others apparently have not.
The Government, however, has had contact with Mr. Hatch by
telephone. The Government is encouraged to contact Mr. Hatch
to verify a proper address where mail can be delivered.
light of these circumstances, the Court will allow Mr. Hatch
thirty (30) days from the entry of this Order in which to
file an amended petition, signed under penalty of perjury,
that provides a justification for his late filing and that
complies with the other requirements set forth above. If Mr.