FBI Won’t Return $40k Seized From Couple Though They Weren’t Implicated In Any Crime

| How Africa News
the Martins Was Part of Several Customers Whose Properties the Fbi Seized After a Raid at the California Branch of Us Private Vaults Photo Credit Institue for Justice


A couple whose $40,200 was confiscated by the FBI during a March 2021 raid on the Beverly Hills, California, branch of US Private Vaults has yet to get an explanation from the government as to why their money was not returned.

Linda and Reggie Martin were holding their cash in a deposit box at the company when the raid occurred, according to Business Insider Africa. According to court filings, the FBI entered 1,400 safe-deposit boxes and seized over $86 million in cash and other valuables, yet hundreds of customers touched by the raid were not charged with any crime.

The couple learned about the raid from local TV. “The FBI stole my savings nearly two years ago without telling me why,” Linda Martin stated in a news release. “From the day my money was taken, it’s been a convoluted and frustrating procedure.” This should not have happened to anyone.”

The Martins are plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the FBI and its Director, and they are represented by the Institute for Justice. “They were only intended to identify owners so they could claim their property,” the non-profit law firm noted. “Instead, the FBI acted on its months-old plan to search and try to forfeit the contents of every box valued more than $5,000.”

The FBI issued forfeiture notices to the box holders months after the agency took their property. Martin and other box holders were warned by the FBI that “the government sought to confiscate their property forever, even though they were not mentioned in the indictment against the firm.”

Martin noted in a news statement that the FBI’s decision left her “utterly befuddled.” In her case, she claimed that the FBI violated her Fifth Amendment rights. According to Insider, the legislation states that the government can only justify forfeiture if the reasons it provides are explicit, accurate, and legal.

“The government shouldn’t get to take your property if it can’t tell you what you did wrong. Using civil forfeiture, the government decides for itself whether to take and try to keep property, even when it doesn’t suspect the owners of any crime,” Institute for Justice lawyer Bob Belden said.

“Then, the FBI sends copy-and-paste forfeiture notices that fail to tell owners anything about why it is trying to take their property. That’s not only wrong – it’s unconstitutional.”

In a May 2022 lawsuit filed by numerous affected US Private Vaults clients, the FBI was also accused of lying about why it conducted the operation. “Finally, the temptation of civil forfeiture converted these federal cops into bandits,” said Institute for Justice attorney Robert Frommer.

The FBI was eventually ordered to cease the forfeiture procedure against the lawsuit’s plaintiffs. The judge also decided that the FBI’s letters were “anemic,” and that the agency should inform the renters of “the factual reasons for seizure and the precise law provision allegedly breached.”

But, a District Court judge determined in September that the FBI agents participating in the raid did not violate any search and seizure statutes. Following the raid, US Private Vaults closed its doors and pleaded guilty to colluding with customers to launder narcotics money.

| How Africa News

Meet Dr. Xavier Cole, The First Black President of Loyola University New Orleans

| How Africa News

African Market Intelligence Startup Raises $4 Million in Seed Funding