United States District Court, S.D. Georgia
Order concerns assets contained in one of the captioned
accounts, specifically the Funds Contained in Vanguard
Charitable Endowment Program Ending in XX297 0 (the
"Vanguard Account"). The Vanguard Account had been
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).) Prior
thereto, the assets contained therein had been frozen upon
agreement between the account's custodian and the United
States Attorney's Office.
George Bird pled guilty to an Information on March 21, 2018,
the Government opted not to pursue these assets and thus
omitted the Vanguard Account from the forfeiture provision.
The Government, however, failed to dismiss the Vanguard
Account from the instant civil forfeiture case. On July 9,
2019, this Court entered an Order determining that
Third-Party Claimant Lisa Bird had made a prima
facie showing that she is entitled to the funds listed
in her Divorce Decree with George Bird, which included the
Vanguard Account. (See Order of Jul. 9, 2019, Doc.
No. 85.) The Court also ordered the custodian of the Vanguard
Account be closed and the funds deposited into the Registry
of the Court.
30 and August 26, 2019, the Vanguard Charitable Endowment
Program, custodian of the Vanguard Account, responded and
objected to the Court's Order of July 9, 2019. Through
these filings, Vanguard Charitable claims that George Mack
Bird irrevocably transferred any and all rights, title and
interest in the donated assets contained in the Vanguard
Account to Vanguard Charitable. Consequently, George Mack
Bird could not have transferred a property interest in the
Vanguard Account to his ex-wife Lisa Bird through their
Divorce Decree. No. interested party in the case has filed
any response or objection to Vanguard Charitable's claim
to the Vanguard Account.
review of the record, it appears that the Vanguard Charitable
is an independent 501(c)(3) grant-making organization focused
on supporting donors' charitable plans. (Decl. of Mark
Froehlich, CFO of Vanguard Charitable, Doc. No. 76, Ex. 1
¶¶ 1-2.) Vanguard Charitable does not administer
personal investment accounts, and donors may not access or
recover any account funds. (Id. ¶ 2.) Rather,
all contributions made to Vanguard Charitable are permanent,
irrevocable, and unconditional donations. (Id.
¶ 3.) Vanguard Charitable invests the donated funds, and
donors recommend grants to eligible public charities.
respect to the Vanguard Account at issue here, George Mack
Bird III opened the account in 2001 with a $100, 000
donation. (Id. ¶ 4 & Ex. A.) Over the
ensuing years, George Bird donated an additional $115, 661 to
the account. (Id. ¶¶ 5 & 7 & Exs.
B & D.) At the time of each donation, George Bird signed
a statement acknowledging that the donation was "an
irrevocable and unconditional gift," and agreed to
"irrevocably relinquish all rights, title, and
interest" in the donated assets. (Id.
¶¶ 4-7 & Exs. A-D.)
this evidence, and hearing no objection from any quarter, the
Court hereby finds and concludes that neither George Mack
Bird nor Lisa Bird through their Divorce Decree have any
right, title or interest in the Vanguard Account. Rather, the
rights, title and interest in the Vanguard Account belong to
the custodian Vanguard Charitable. Accordingly, the Court
hereby VACATES IN PART that portion of its
Order of July 9, 2019, which orders Vanguard Charitable to
close the Vanguard Account and deposit the funds into the
Registry of the Court. Further, the Court hereby
DISMISSES the Vanguard Account from this
case. Vanguard Charitable is therefore excused from
attendance at the September 16, 2019 hearing.