(NewsReady.com) – Federal law enforcement has a long history of seizing the property of American citizens. Although the practice, known as civil forfeiture, is meant to prevent criminal activity by depriving people of the proceeds of their alleged crimes, not everyone who has their property seized is involved in illegal activity. One woman claims the FBI used this to take her life savings.
In 2021, the FBI raised the US Private Vaults in Beverly Hills, California. Agents took $40,200 from Linda Martin. According to an op-ed written by her attorney Robert Frommer in The Wall Street Journal, she assumed law enforcement was going to return her money because she had nothing to do with the wrongdoing the company was accused of committing.
On June 10, 2021, the FBI sent her a notice informing her it had begun forfeiture proceedings in order to keep her savings. She filed a petition with the federal agency to try to get her life savings back. But her attorney says, when she did that, she “conceded her property’s forfeitability.”
Linda Martin thought she found a safe place to store the cash she was setting aside to purchase a home. But now her savings are in the hands of the FBI and she may never see them again.
She was never accused of a crime.
Now Linda & IJ are fighting back.https://t.co/lbUYYw0SgJ
— Institute for Justice (@IJ) March 14, 2023
Frommer pointed out that the bureau’s letter didn’t accuse Martin of any wrongdoing or criminal activity. Instead, it just listed a number of statutes that allow them to seize the assets of Americans, such as the Tariff Act of 1930. Almost two years later, the FBI has still not returned her money.
The attorney, who works at the Institute for Justice, filed a class action lawsuit against the FBI over its raid of the US Private Vaults. They are now looking for others who have had their assets seized by the federal law enforcement agency and who received one of the notices she did, informing them of the forfeiture process.
Frommer explained that he’d previously filed a lawsuit in relation to the US Private Vaults raid, and a federal judge said the FBI’s notices were “anemic.” That judge halted the forfeiture process for the plaintiffs in that particular lawsuit.
The attorney argues this practice by the FBI is an egregious violation of the Fifth Amendment.
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