Could not authenticate you.followers
One of the owners of property seized by the government when FBI agents raided U.S. Private Vaults in Beverly Hills in March will have approximately $57,000 in cash returned to him after a July 23 ruling in United States District Court.
Joseph Ruiz, who stored cash he received from court settlements in a safe deposit box at U.S. Private Vaults because he distrusted banks, said the ruling was a long time coming. Ruiz said he needs the money for medical treatment for back pain he suffers as the result of being in a collision with a drunk driver.
“The last five months have been very difficult and I look forward to resuming the medical treatment my savings were meant to pay for,” Ruiz said. “No one should have to go through this.”
United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner issued an order on July 23 directing the government to provide information in writing within seven days about why it should be allowed to keep the contents of Ruiz’s box, according to Institute for Justice senior attorney Rob Johnson, who represented Ruiz and numerous other box holders. The seven days expired on July 30, and Klausner’s ruling became final, he added.
“It’s amazing the FBI needs to be told this, but the government cannot go around seizing property without a good reason,” Johnson said. “The FBI grabbed over $85 million from U.S. Private Vaults customers, including Joseph, and it has never provided a good explanation why. The FBI needs to give all that property back.”
The warrant authorizing the raid on U.S. Private Vaults specifically stated that it “does not authorize a criminal search or seizure of the contents of the safety deposit boxes,” Johnson said. Despite clear direction, the FBI opened every box in the vault and forced individuals to prove their innocence to get their property back, he added.
The Institute for Justice has also filed a class action lawsuit seeking the return of property to the hundreds of other box holders. That lawsuit is pending, and the July 23 order applied only to Ruiz. Johnson expects a ruling on other cases soon.
The FBI recently contacted attorneys with the Institute for Justice to schedule the return of approximately $100,000 in gold and $63,000 in cash seized from another box holder, Travis May. However, two other box holders represented by the Institute for Justice – Jeni Pearsons and her husband Michael Storc – are still awaiting a decision on approximately $20,000 in silver that was seized from their box, which they said is savings for retirement.
“The FBI’s decision shouldn’t be difficult,” added Institute for Justice senior attorney Robert Frommer. “The FBI promised that it only wanted to reunite people with their property, yet it has held Jeni and Michael’s silver hostage for months. The government can’t take your stuff and then force you to prove your innocence just to get it back. Judge Klausner’s order makes clear the government needs to stop playing games, return everyone’s property, and bring this sordid affair to an end.”
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.