Another amazing out of control move by the FBI and DOJ. Wait until we get the 84,000 more IRS agents. It gives new meaning to “drill baby drill.” What happened to probable cause? Here we go:
The FBI ‘drilled and pried’ their way into 1,400 safe-deposit boxes at a private vault company in Beverly Hills after misleading a judge about their plan to permanently confiscate everything inside every box containing at least $5,000 in cash or goods, a senior FBI agent recently testified.
They rummaged through personal belongings of a jazz saxophone player, an interior designer, a retired doctor, a flooring contractor, two Century City lawyers and hundreds of others.
Agents took photos and videos of pay stubs, password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration and vaccination records, bank statements, heirlooms and a will, court records show. In one box, agents found cremated human remains.
They omitted from their warrant request a central part of the FBI’s plan: Permanent confiscation of everything inside every box containing at least $5,000 in cash or goods, a senior FBI agent recently testified.
The FBI’s justification for the dragnet forfeiture was its presumption that hundreds of unknown box holders were all storing assets somehow tied to unknown crimes, court records show.
The U.S. attorney’s office has tried to block public disclosure of court papers that laid bare the government’s deception, but a judge rejected its request to keep them under seal.
The failure to disclose the confiscation plan in the warrant request came to light in FBI documents and depositions of agents in a class-action lawsuit by box holders who say the raid violated their rights.
The court filings also show that federal agents defied restrictions that U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim set in the warrant by searching through box holders’ belongings for evidence of crimes.
“The government did not know what was in those boxes, who owned them, or what, if anything, those people had done,” Robert Frommer, a lawyer who represents nearly 400 box holders in the class-action case, wrote in court papers.
From Bunkerville’s earlier story in April 5, 2021: FBI Raids Anonymous Safety Deposit Boxes, Requires Identity to Reclaim Stuff
Back to today’s story:
This is the problem with these Magistrate Federal Judges. They have not been approved by the senate and may have questionable legal experience. They are basically to do the “grunt” work of the Federal Judges. In this case though, the FBI clearly roamed beyond the restrictions set.
The government shops for them to do their dirty work. Article III judges should be required for warrants such as these:
Article III of the Constitution governs the appointment, tenure, and payment of Supreme Court justices, and federal circuit and district judges. These judges, often referred to as “Article III judges,” are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Back to the story:
The FBI and US attorney’s office in Los Angeles justified the 5-day dragnet forfeiture at the US Private Vaults store by assuming that hundreds of anonymous box holders were storing assets somehow tied to unknown crimes.
At the end of the operation, agents had recovered more than $86 million in cash, and a ‘bonanza’ of gold, silver, rare coins, jewelry and other items of value.
Now, around 700 box holders who aren’t implicated in any crimes liken the raid to police barging into a building’s 700 apartments and taking every tenant’s possessions when the only evidence of wrongdoing is against the landlord.
The plaintiffs in the class-action suit have asked U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner to declare the raid unconstitutional. If he grants the request, it could force the FBI to return millions of dollars to box holders whose assets it has tried to confiscate.
It could also spoil an unknown number of criminal investigations by blocking prosecutors from using any evidence or information acquired in the raid, including guns and drugs. –LA Times
“The government did not know what was in those boxes, who owned them, or what, if anything, those people had done,” said their lawyer, Robert Frommer. “That’s why the warrant application did not even attempt to argue there was probable cause to seize and forfeit box renters’ property.”
After the raid, the FBI posted a notice in the store window where customers could claim their property. Those who came forward had their bank records, state tax returns, DMV files and criminal histories investigated, agents testified.
As far as having a private vault lockbox, if it is anything like where I live, there are no bank boxes available. When is America going to say enough is enough?
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