The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Victoria A. Roberts
I. INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On December 14, 2007, the Government filed a Complaint for Forfeiture. Chikaodinaka O. Ahanonu filed a claim and an answer to the Complaint on January 3, 2008.
On January 15, 2008, the Court entered a Stipulation to Stay the Civil Forfeiture Proceeding.
Before the Court is the Government's "Motion to Lift Stay, to Strike the Claim of Chikaodinaka O. Ahanonu Pursuant to the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine or, in the Alternative, for the Issuance of a Subpoena to Attend a Deposition." (Doc. #13). The Government asks the Court to lift the stay; find Ahanonu is a fugitive pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2466; strike Ahanonu's claim; and, allow it to seek entry of a default judgment and final order of forfeiture.
In the alternative, the Government says the Court should compel Ahanonu to appear at a deposition. If Ahanonu does not appear at the deposition, the Government says he should face sanctions, including the striking of his claim.
In December 2007, DEA agents in Atlanta intercepted telephone calls between Raymond Nsoedo (one of Ahanonu's associates) and Ahanonu, in which Ahanonu described living between California and Detroit, and building a house in Nigeria.
On August 23, 2008, Ahanonu purchased a round trip ticket from Detroit to Los Angeles. Ahanonu was scheduled to fly from Detroit to Los Angeles on August 29, 2008, and return on September 7, 2008. On August 29, 2008, Ahanonu flew from Detroit to Los Angeles as scheduled.
On September 3, 2008, Ahanonu, Nsoedo, Lavon Robertson (a Detroit based heroin distributor), and Uchenna Obi (one of Ahanonu's associates) were indicted by DEA Atlanta in the Northern District of Georgia, for conspiracy to possess heroin. Robertson and Nsoedo were arrested. An arrest warrant was issued for Ahanonu.
On September 5, 2008, DEA Atlanta declared Ahanonu and Obi DEA Fugitives. Obi was arrested on September 6, 2008.
On September 7, 2008, Ahanonu flew from California to Amsterdam. He has not returned to the United States, either to face the pending criminal charge, or to defend the civil forfeiture action.
III. APPLICABLE LAW AND ...