FBI Lied to Judge, then Confiscated $86 Million from 1400 Safe Deposit Boxes


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.

Query Image

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.

LA Times

From Bunkerville’s earlier story in April 5, 2021:

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 Judges

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.

Keep reading

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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26 Responses to “FBI Lied to Judge, then Confiscated $86 Million from 1400 Safe Deposit Boxes”

  1. Baysider Says:

    I read the whole thing. “A dog smelled drug residue on the cash.” This would be true on virtually all paper money in this country!

    The problem with this method is any prosecutions that stem from their fishing expedition should not stand up in court. The prosecutor would sure be in deep trouble if I were selected for this jury. Since any half-wit attorney knows this, I posit it’s not prosecutions they are after. It’s the goods. Flat out theft. US forfeiture laws require evidence that the proceeds were used in criminal activity to seize them. Last I checked blanket searches don’t qualify. Again, not if I were on the jury.

    “FBI agent Lynne Zellhart, a former Sacramento attorney, made sweeping allegations of criminal wrongdoing by box holders – arguing that it would be “irrational” for anyone not breaking the law to store assets at US Private Vaults, when a bank could better safeguard them.” Says who? And are people now put on a suspect list for “irrational” actions? Wowie! That would be a looooong list.

    “The origins of the raid date back to 2015, when local detectives and federal agents spotted drug suspects walking in and out of US Private Vaults.” They are welcome to stake out and track activities of “suspects” then come to the business with specific warrants on specific people. Indeed, in 2019 they did that. Only those are prosecutable cases.

    PLUS everything Mark said. This telegraphs a power play to ALL.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. the unit Says:

    Glad you’re not in the place you were in South Florida a few years ago. Irma, wasn’t it?
    P.S. You know I’m way west in Fl, LA…Lower Alabama…most west Fl panhandle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bunkerville Says:

      Great to hear from you Unit and glad you stopped in. Irma it was indeed and scared me to death….Glad I sold out but prices have tripled since I left a few years ago… Stay safe.. and you should be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit Says:

        I guess we can laugh now remembering your evacuation route. Was it just one night in a shelter…somewhere about Lakeland or there abouts? I forget all the details. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • bunkerville Says:

        Right you are Unit on all counts.Friday through Sunday.. Very kind people and I was lucky as they had just opened up this shelter. And one scary ride home on fumes … gas stations had no gas…had half a gallon left. Many good friends remain there and I pray for a good outcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. nrringlee Says:

    This has been over forty years in the making. The War on Drugs. The War on Terror (Everything else). Our Bill of Rights is in tatters. Rogue Federal Agents run amok because Rogue Federal Agencies have lost their moral foundation and sense of restraint. Our political classes cheer civil asset forfeitures and perp walks of their ideological enemies while blissfully unaware of the fact that when political fortunes change so to the victims. We are in a hot mess.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mustang Says:

    The filth that has become the FBI is enough to make a good American root for Al Capone, Clyde Barrow, and Robin Hood.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. markone1blog Says:

    Remember, it’s the “ultra-MAGA” who are threatening your freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. markone1blog Says:

    Bunker,
    Since we have had Chapter 59 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (which gives police departments the authority to seize certain property that has been used in the commission of certain felonies, including felony narcotics offenses), we should have expected fishing expeditions like this.

    They got away with fishing expeditions via the FISA court when going against Trump. Now they are seeing how far they can go and how much loot they can gather before being reigned in.

    I say it is past time to disband the FBI and put the purportedly good agents in other law enforcement agencies as probationary officers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bunkerville Says:

      First hold the FBI agents accountable and give them stiff sentences and loss of jobs for not adhering to the warrants that are signed off by the judges. The judges need to find them in contempt for a start… Judges need to be held accountable for issuing non limited warrants. Sp far no FBI agent has suffered any consequence.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Baysider Says:

      Authorities at all levels have been using fishing expeditions for a long time and other nefarious methods to hit the Forfeiture Jackpot.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. markone1blog Says:

    Peter,
    As long as the FBI can keep lawyers at arms’ length, then at least the security cameras of the bank might provide more back-up as to what they took during a raid. If they did a Trump-style raid on your home with the goodies in the shoe box and the lawyer kept away — well, bye-bye shoe box.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peter3nj Says:

      Mark
      Eventually cyber money in the coming cashless society will make it unnecessary for the FBI, IRS, or the local po po to break into banks, bedrooms, ex-first ladies lingerie drawers, shoeboxes or rip open mattresses. And maybe they’ll cut off you’re Soylent Green so famished you’re too listless to even pick up the phone and call you’re attorney. In the immortal words of that arbiter of the truth, justice and the American way, Chuckie Cheese Schmucker “They will come at you six ways from Sunday.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. peter3nj Says:

    Nearly 30 years ago while going through a divorce I squirreled away $12,000 cash in a bank safe deposit box opened in a nearby town to pay attorney fees. Today it seems a shoe box and a mattress may offer safer alternatives. These monies in this Beverly Hills story are less than a drop of a drop in a bucket so what is the ulterior motive for the IRS to confiscate this chump change, a feeler a precedent for bigger and better raids of any venue the government decides upon? Precedent…?

    Liked by 2 people

    • bunkerville Says:

      I am with you Peter…. and we need to get rid of these types of judges. The same kind that did Trump.
      They started with the druggies and we didn’t care enough to stop them with confiscating their stuff.. the old saw.. first they came for…. and then… and then they came for me.

      Liked by 1 person


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