Los Angeles: FBI Accused of Seizing $85 Million from Safe Deposit Boxes without Legal Basis

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Beverly Hills: A class-action suit claims FBI exceeded its search warrant in March and took possession of the contents of about 800 safe deposit boxes kept with storage provider US Private Vaults (USPV), which was indicted for conspiracy to sell drugs and launder money. However, the owners of the boxes are not accused of committing any crimes. The search warrant only authorized the FBI to inspect the safe deposit boxes to “identify their owners in order to notify them” about claiming their property. Owners’ boxes have been seized under civil forfeiture proceedings and the civil forfeiture notices said the feds can deny return of the items if it judges the responses are not filled out “correctly.”

Hundreds of people storing valuables in safe deposit boxes in Los Angeles may never see their cash, precious metals and heirlooms again, unless a federal judge intervenes in the next week.

Several are suing the government for seizing the contents of about 800 boxes as part of a March raid of the storage provider, U.S. Private Vaults (USPV), which was indicted for conspiracy to sell drugs and launder money.

The Institute for Justice (IJ) is seeking class-action status for a May lawsuit by several owners alleging “shocking, unconscionable, and unconstitutional” behavior by the government. IJ attorney Robert Frommer accused the feds of an “$85 million cash grab” from people who were not accused of wrongdoing.

The civil forfeiture notices “do not identify any legal basis,” namely the “specific offense,” to justify each forfeiture, and thus violate due process rights, the public interest law firm said in an amended complaint filed last week. “Box holders thus do not know whether the government is accusing them of drug crimes, money laundering, structuring” or any crime at all.

“While this case is similar to many of our other forfeiture actions, it is also bigger because the government is trying to forfeit hundreds of safe deposit boxes all at one go,” IJ senior attorney Rob Johnson told Just the News.

It’s also unusual for the government to keep fighting “tooth and nail” after innocent people contest the forfeitures, he wrote in an email. The feds appear intent to “make all these box holders prove their own innocence to get their property back” with no evidence of a crime.

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Boomer Lady
Boomer Lady
1 month ago

I closed my safe deposit box in 1990 because I sold the contents. Since then, long before this story, I’ve heard that banks in collusion with the banks have been doing this for awhile.

Ed
Ed
1 month ago

Tell your elected representatives to abolish what is now the KGB – USA.
Let all the states interface and enforce the law w/ each other. And, we’ll save a ton of money at the same time.

Gourdhead
Gourdhead
1 month ago

The FBI along with BATF and the DOJ are nothing less than organized crime against the American people.

Wujek
Wujek
1 month ago

Looks like the unscrupulous agents are hitting the honey jar.