United States District Court, S.D. Georgia
19, 2019, Third Party Claimant Lisa Bird filed a "Motion
for Contempt to Enforce a Court Order." Therein, she
complained that the first two listed accounts in the case
caption, namely Funds Seized from T. Rowe Price Account
Ending in XXXX5215 (the "T. Rowe Price Account")
and the Funds Contained in Vanguard Charitable Endowment
Program Account Ending in XX2970 (the "Vanguard
Account"), were about to be released by the United
States Attorney's Office in derogation of the Court's
Order of September 24, 2019, which ordered that
"no disposition of any of the captioned
properties shall be made except upon further Order of the
Court." (Doc. No. 33, at 5 (emphasis added).)
the captioned assets were listed as property subject to
criminal forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 1982(a)(1) in the
federal Indictment of George Mack Bird III ("George
Bird") filed in the Southern District of Georgia on
March 8, 2017. (United States v. Bird, Crim. No.
317-001 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 8, 2017).) All of these assets except
the Vanguard Account were seized by the United States
Marshals Service pursuant to seizure warrants issued in June
2015. The Vanguard Account was frozen upon agreement between
the account's custodian and the United States
Attorney's Office. When George Bird pled guilty to an
Information on March 21, 2018, the forfeiture provision
omitted the two subject Accounts (the T. Rowe Price and
Vanguard Accounts) because the Government decided, without
explanation, not to pursue these Accounts. The Government,
however, failed to dismiss the two Accounts from the instant
civil forfeiture case and sent out Notices of Forfeiture that
included the two Accounts.
after Lisa Bird filed the aforementioned motion for contempt
did the Government plead by way of response that it had
decided "to suspend the pursuit of forfeiture'7 of
these two assets without further explanation. (Doc. No. 61,
at 2.) Then, the morning of the hearing on the matter, July
2, 2019, the Government filed a motion to remove the two
Accounts from the case.
the hearing, the Court denied the Government's motion to
remove the two Accounts and determined that Lisa Bird had
made a prima facie showing that she is entitled to
the funds from the two Accounts through a provision of her
Divorce Decree with George Bird. (Order of July 9, 2019, Doc.
No. 66, at 7.) The Court also ordered the United States
Marshals Service, which held the seized funds from the T.
Rowe Price Account, and the custodian of the Vanguard Account
to deposit the funds into the Registry of the Court
forthwith. (Id. at 9.) Finally, the Court opened an
objection period of twenty-one days for any interested party
to show cause why the funds should not be distributed to Lisa
Bird. (Id. at 9-10.)
Department of Justice deposited the funds seized from the T.
Rowe Price Account into the Registry of the Court on July 24,
2019. The Vanguard Account funds, however, remain in the
account. On July 30, 2019, the Vanguard Charitable Endowment
Program lodged a timely objection, contending that the funds
in the Vanguard Account did not belong to George Bird at the
time the Divorce Decree was entered. (Doc. No. 76.) Rather,
contributions made to the Vanguard Account are
"permanent, irrevocable, and unconditional
donations." (Id. at 2.) Accordingly, George
Bird did not have an ownership interest in the Vanguard
Account to give it to Lisa Bird in the Divorce Decree. The
Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program therefore seeks to
vacate the Order of July 9threquiring
relinquishment of the Account funds.
17, 2019, George Bird filed a pro se objection to
the distribution of the funds derived from the T. Rowe Price
Account to Lisa Bird. George Bird contends that his and Lisa
Bird's biological son, George Mack Bird IV, is the sole
and rightful owner of the Account. On July 30, 2019, George
Bird's criminal defense attorneys entered a notice of
appearance in the case and filed a further objection on
George Bird's behalf, again contending that the funds
from the T. Rowe Price Account belong to his son.
on July 29, 2019, the son, George Mack Bird IV filed an
objection through counsel, claiming sole ownership of the
funds from the T. Rowe Price Account.
objection period set by the July 9th Order is now
closed and the record is fixed with respect to claims against
the res.All interested parties shall now have an
additional fourteen (14) days from the entry of this Order to
file any further comment, evidence, response or objection to
the claims now in the record and described hereinabove:
principally the claim of Vanguard Charitable Endowment
Program to the Vanguard Account and the claim of George Mack
Bird IV to the funds seized from the T. Rowe Price Account.
Thereafter, the Court will conduct a hearing to resolve the
ownership interest of the two subject Accounts (T. Rowe Price
and Vanguard Accounts) once and for all. The hearing shall
take place on Monday, September 16, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., at
the J. Roy Rowland Courthouse in Dublin, Georgia. All
interested parties shall appear at the hearing. Failure of a
party to appear may be deemed a repudiation of any interest
in the Accounts.
respect to the other listed assets, the Court notes that
there is currently a Scheduling Order in place, whereby
discovery was set to close on June 18, 2019, and the last day
to file motions was July 18, 2019. Third Party Claimant Lisa
Bird has filed a motion to compel against the United States
Attorney's Office, seeking responses to her discovery
requests. The motion to compel will be addressed at the
hearing on September 16, 2019. In fact, any and all
outstanding discovery issues will be resolved at the hearing.
Accordingly, the parties should be prepared to bring up and
argue any remaining discovery issues at that time.
the Clerk of Court is directed to serve this Order upon all
attorneys of record and Lisa Bird.
 In neither its pleadings nor its
presentation at the hearing on July 2, 2019, did the United
States Attorney's Office disclose either George Mack Bird
IVs beneficial ownership of the T. Rowe Price Account or the
charitable trust ownership of the Vanguard Account.
Accordingly, these interests were ...