According to the lawsuit, the government did not explain why it quickly seized more than $100 million from people's California safety deposit boxes.
The case centers on a couple from Los Angeles who allege that the FBI stole their entire savings of $40,200 from a safety deposit box.
In March of 2021, Linda and Reggie Martin want to know why the FBI took their moneyas well as valuables that were stored in the safety deposit boxes of a large number of other people from a financial storage facility in Beverly Hills.
The Martins assert that the organization took their money without giving any evidence to support their allegation. Linda said, according to a press release from the institute:
The FBI took my savings nearly two years ago but has never told me why. It's been a confusing and frustrating process from the day my money was taken. No one should have to go through this.- Linda
According to a court petition made by the Institute for Justice, the FBI stole more than $100 million in cash, gold, jewels, and other valuables from hundreds of people at the Beverly Hills facility. These assets included cash, gold, and jewelry.
According to the release, the FBI sent broad warnings that "indirectly refer to hundreds of federal crimes," but the agency declined to specify what the couple did wrong.
In the lawsuit, which was brought before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, it is requested that the court put an immediate stop to all administrative processes for everyone who has been notified of forfeiture by the FBI.
According to Rob Frommer, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, civil and criminal forfeiture is a significant source of revenue for the United States Department of Justice.
"Thousands of times every year, people receive paltry notices that merely say the government wants to forfeit their property because it might be wrapped up in one of the hundreds of federal crimes," he said.
Linda's plight highlights the ugly truth that federal forfeiture incentivizes agents to seize as much as they can, even absent any reason to think that a crime was committed. The FBI's 'policing for profit' deliberately leaves property owners in the dark in order to keep them from fighting back.- Frommer