A federal judge ordered the FBI to end its attempt to confiscate the contents of 369 safes after finding that law enforcement had provided “no factual basis” for the seizures.
the temporary injunction, released Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner, is the latest blow to the FBI’s attempt to seize millions of dollars in cash, jewelry and other valuables from safes once held in the American private safes in Beverly Hills, California. . When the FBI raided the premises on March 22, officers were armed with a warrant explicitly prohibiting them from seizing the contents of the safes kept there. But the FBI still took them into custody and, in mid-May, filed administrative confiscation proceedings against 369 of the nearly 800 boxes seized, including more than $ 85 million in cash and other valuables.
The FBI maintains that the contents of these boxes are ill-gotten gains from criminal activity. Plaintiffs in the case say they were unfairly targeted by an illegal search and seizure that violated their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.
Klausner sided with the owners of the safes on Tuesday, writing that the FBI had broken due process in seizing the contents of the safes without even identifying the laws the owners allegedly broke. Instead, the FBI has attempted to claim a wide range of different criminal acts, from counterfeiting to counterfeiting and smuggling to bank fraud, in order to take it all in one fell swoop.
“This list of alleged legal bases for confiscation is anything but specific,” writes Klausner, noting that the FBI cited part of the US criminal code that includes 35 different sections. “This notice, to put it bluntly, does not provide any factual basis for the seizure of the plaintiffs’ property. “
None of the clients of US Private Vaults have been charged with crimes, although the FBI has argued in court documents that “the majority of box holders are criminals who have used USPV anonymity to hide their wealth. badly acquired “. The FBI returned the contents of some of the seized safes, but only after brazenly searching private documents and potentially misplacing the valuables of some vault holders in an apparent attempt to find evidence of criminal activity.
“Hundreds of innocent people have seen their lives turned upside down by the government’s $ 85 million grab,” said Robert Frommer, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian nonprofit law firm that representing the four complainants at the center of Tuesday’s injunction. “This ordinance outright rejects the government’s ‘anemic advice’ as an unconstitutional attempt to take ownership of box holders for no good reason.”
Even though Tuesday’s injunction applies directly to just four of the victims of the FBI raid, it does apply to anyone caught in the mess of confiscations, according to IJ.
“Judge Klausner’s decision is just another nail in the coffin of this ill-conceived administrative confiscation scheme,” said Benjamin Gluck, a California lawyer who represents several of the others caught up in the FBI raid. Reason. “The government cannot proceed because it cannot even explain, let alone prove, why the property of these people should be confiscated. “