United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
D. ENGELHARDT CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Clerk of Court has custody of reel-to-reel
tapes which were pledged by defendant Donald E.
Gilbreth (“Gilbreth”) in 1984 as security for the
$500, 000 appearance bonds of Gilbreth and his co-defendant,
David L. Snoddy (“Snoddy”), in the
above-captioned criminal action.After the defendants lost
their appeals and reported to prison to serve their prison
terms, District Judge Robert F. Collins canceled the
appearance bonds and the pledge of the tapes and ordered the
tapes returned to Gilbreth in 1986; approximately one month
later in a supplemental order, Judge Collins ordered the
tapes returned to Gilbreth's attorney, Michael S. Fawer
(“Fawer”). (Docs. 343 and 345). A receipt signed
by Fawer and former Deputy Clerk, Joyce A. Giliberto
indicates that the Clerk of Court for the Eastern District of
Louisiana, Loretta G. White, returned five master tapes to
Fawer on September 11, 1986. Nevertheless, as of the present
date, tapes remain in the custody of the Clerk of Court which
appear to be the very tapes pledged by Gilbreth in
tapes were discovered in the safe deposit box assigned to the
Clerk of Court at the Whitney Bank, Poydras Street Branch, by
Clerk's Office personnel, sometime after the retirement
of the previous Clerk of Court. After the discovery of the
tapes, the Clerk's Office made efforts to locate
Gilbreth. Public records research indicated that Gilbreth
died in 2005.
the whereabouts of Gilbreth were unknown to the Court, on
July 21, 2016, the undersigned Chief Judge appointed counsel,
A. Gregory Grimsal (“Grimsal”), to represent
Gilbreth as an absentee defendant and either confirm his
death, locate him, or identify his heirs and/or estate
representatives so that they could be notified of the
deadline to file a claim of entitlement to the tapes. The
Court also directed the Clerk to notify certain parties known
to have been involved in the underlying criminal action of
the fact that the tapes remained in the Clerk's custody
and of deadline for filing any claims of entitlement to the
tapes. (Doc. 397).
Court ordered that any person claiming ownership of and legal
entitlement to the return of the pledged tapes file a motion
and claim setting forth the nature and extent of their right
and interest in the property on or before January 18, 2017.
(Doc. 397). The deadline for filing such claims was
subsequently extended to April 18, 2017. (Doc. 408).
Report of Appointed Counsel regarding Donald
March 23, 2017, counsel for absentee defendant Gilbreth filed
a report describing the efforts made to locate him or his
heirs or estate representatives and to notify them of the
instant proceedings instituted to return the pledged
property. (Doc. 409). As set forth in detail in the report,
counsel located Gilbreth's brother, Ruble Gilbreth
(“Ruble”), who resided in Big Sandy, Tennessee,
and learned from Ruble that Gilbreth died on July 17, 2005,
in Memphis, Tennessee. Attached to counsel's report is a
certified copy of the Certificate of Death of one Donald
Evans Gilbreth indicating that at the time of his death,
Gilbreth was married to Janis Ezell Collett
(“Collett”). Ruble also indicated that while
Gilbreth had no children with Collett, he had four children,
three with a prior spouse and a son with another woman, but
he could not provide their names, addresses, or any other
information about them.
efforts described in the report, appointed counsel located
Collett, who resides in Killeen, Alabama. Collett indicated
that she knew that Gilbreth had three children with a prior
spouse, but other than indicating that they had been adopted
by their step-father and that the last name of the sons may
be McLaurin, she could not locate them. Collett indicated
that Gilbreth did not have a will and that at the time she
was contacted by appointed counsel, no legal process had been
instituted to distribute his assets.
counsel's independent investigation did not reveal that
any probate proceedings for Gilbreth's estate had been
commenced prior to the time he located Collett.
counsel was able to determine that, prior to marrying
Collett, Gilbreth had been married to Jean Miree Yuille
(“Yuille”) who resided in Florence, Alabama. An
online obituary indicated that she died on August 3, 2014.
The obituary indicated that Yuille was survived by a son,
William T. Yuille.
counsel arranged for the below listed advertisement to be
published in the legal notices sections of the (1) Times
Daily (Florence, Alabama); (2) Sun Herald
(Biloxi, Mississippi); (3) Daily News (Memphis,
Tennessee); (4) Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee),
and (5) Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana):
If you believe you are or may be a potential heir to the
estate of Donald Evans Gilbreth, you may be entitled to
certain property currently in the custody of the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
in New Orleans, Louisiana. All potential claimants must file
a motion asserting their claim to the property in this action
entitled United States v. David L. Snoddy and Donald E.
Gilbreth, Criminal Action No. 83-541, on or before April
18, 2017. For more information, please contact A. Gregory
Grimsal or Alex B. Rothenberg at Gordon, Arata, McCollam,
Duplantis & Eagan, LLC, 201 St. Charles Ave., Floor 40,
New Orleans, Louisiana 70170, 504-582-1111.
Yuille, III, called appointed counsel to inquire about the
advertisement in the Times Daily in Florence,
Alabama. He indicated that he was Jean Yuille's son and
Donald Gilbreth's step-son, that his mother and Gilbreth
had no children together, and that he did not know the names
or contact information of Gilbreth's biological children.
He confirmed that Jean Yuille had passed away.
March 6, 2017, appointed counsel sent written notification of
the pendency of the proceedings and the claims filing
deadline by certified U.S. Mail to William Yuille, III, Ruble
Gilbreth, and Janis Collett. As noted, pursuant to the
Court's direction, the Clerk's Office sent
notification of the claims deadline to the United States
Attorney and Chief United States Probation Officer, as well
as co-defendant ...