Feds Rob Man of Life Savings because They Can

When the Feds rob a man they simply list a groundless accusation which they never prove in court; the victim is not even charged.

Tim Cushing at TechDirt writes of another typical outrage in the former United States of America: “Nail Salon Owner Sues for Return of Life Savings Seized by DEA Agents at Airport.”

Here’s something you see all too rarely — not because the government’s civil forfeiture programs aren’t routinely abused – but because it’s a good way to spend lots of money fighting a losing battle.

Vu Do, owner of two nail salons in New York City, is trying to retrieve nearly $44,000 – his life savings which he had put together over twenty years – taken from him by the DEA at the JFK airport. The complaint points out that Do has run two legitimate businesses in NYC for several years, and not once has he been arrested or even charged for violations of controlled substances laws.

Nevertheless, the DEA took all of Do’s money under the assumption that he’s involved in the drug business, despite being more than willing to let him go without even a citation. Do had planned to take his money to California to help his financially-struggling siblings out, but ran into the DEA first. 

In his lawsuit to get his money back, Do writes an excuse for himself that he was unaware of Federal regulations that prohibit carrying more than five thousand dollars. Cushing points out there is no reason he could have known any such thing because there is no such Federal regulation!

 Asset forfeiture laws make this practice unwise, but nothing in federal law says Do was forbidden from boarding a plane with his $44,000.

There are reporting requirements for any amount over $10,000 in cash traveling in or out of the country, but nothing says travelers can’t go from state-to-state with their own money. They don’t even have to report it. They will, obviously, experience more scrutiny from the TSA, but it’s not illegal to do what this salon owner did. 

So why is Do denying knowledge of a non-existent law that he could not have violated? The simplest guess is that he is repeating a lie that the DEA fed him.

Do has no chance of getting his life savings back. The Feds have constructed a labyrinth of requirements for going through “the courts” (a graphic is included in the TechDirt post that is a literal maze). Besides, the challenge has to come in a “timely” manner and Do has missed the Feds’ self-serving deadline.

Plus, they could cost Do another $40 grand in legal fees if they wanted to draw out the court case. The Feds rob us because they can get away with it, easily.

Of course, any attempt to reinstate civilization and the rule of law will be met with complaints by “law enforcement,” just like the police are doing in New Mexico, that they no longer have enough income for their budget to allow them to catch criminals.

But they don’t need to bother; they are the criminals.