FBI violated hundreds of Americans’ constitutional rights in Beverly Hills raid, appeals court rules

 The FBI violated the constitutional rights of private citizens when it seized the contents of hundreds of safe deposit boxes during a 2021 raid on a Beverly Hills business suspected of money laundering, a federal appeals court ruled last week.

Rob Frommer, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, who represented many of the plaintiffs, said, "This was a tremendous victory not only for our clients, but for the hundreds of people who have been trapped in a nightmare for years because of the FBI " Case, told Fox News.

U.S. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Bureau violated U.S. laws against unreasonable searches and seizures by opening and cataloging the contents of 1,400 safe deposit boxes without individual criminal warrants for each. Violated the Fourth Amendment rights of private vault box holders.

The Jan. 23 ruling overturned a 2022 lower court ruling that sided with the FBI and required federal officials to destroy any inventory records of hundreds of box holders who have not been charged with a crime.

In the March 2021 raid, agents took approximately $86 million in cash from the boxes, as well as jewelry, gold bars and coins, silver and other valuables. In May of that year, the FBI "initiated administrative seizure proceedings" against an unspecified number of boxes, according to court documents filed by the government.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process through which the government seizes money or other property associated with a crime, even if the owner has not been charged with a crime.

U.S. The FBI's raid on the private vaults was part of its investigation into the company, which was eventually shut down and convicted of conspiracy to launder drug money. The government argued before the 9th Circuit that its warrant authorized the FBI to seize the deposit boxes and inventory their contents in accordance with standardized policy.

But unsealed court documents revealed that neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney's Office told the judge in their warrant request that agents planned to seize the contents of each box, which contained at least $5,000 in cash or There were goods.

The warrant only authorized officers to seize business computers, money counters, and surveillance equipment. The judge also allowed them to seize safety deposit boxes and keys, but specifically wrote that agents should only "inspect the contents of the boxes in an effort to identify their owners ... so that they can claim their property." "and the warrant "does not authorize the criminal search or seizure of the contents of safety deposit boxes."

In its decision, the 9th Circuit panel wrote that the government had gone beyond the scope of its warrant and violated its own rules by taking an inventory of property that was not the subject of the warrant.

Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote that it was "particularly troubling" that the government could not explain the limits of these types of inventory searches and questioned whether they amounted to "unlimited searches of an individual's personal belongings." How they differ, as seen in colonial America.

Smith wrote, "After all, it was the abuse of power that led to the adoption of the Fourth Amendment in the first place."

Jeni Pearsons, one of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit said the win was "incredibly gratifying."

"Hearing these judges just knock them down a peg and talk through the situation, this extraordinary overreach and an actual breaking of civil rights … it was just really, really gratifying," she told Fox News.

placeholder Pearsons and her husband Michael Storc had $20,000 in silver and $2,000 in cash seized from their rented security deposit box during the raid. She teamed up with the Institute for Justice to fight for her property and ultimately prevailed, but said she found the FBI had lost the $2,000 when she went to reclaim it.
"I do think that the FBI is watching this case," Pearsons said. "And I hope that if they do continue with civil forfeiture processes, that they put structure in place so that it's transparent and that it's not just a free-for-all all, which is what this seems to be."

"It's a free-for-all under a ridiculous defense," Pearson said.

But Frommer said that although the decision "helped expose the government's effort to steal things from innocent people," he doesn't think it will end civil forfeiture abuses.

"I think this decision is important in itself, but it will not stop the FBI's hand," he told Fox News. "Yes, they have just been slapped. But as long as there are no real consequences, they will see it as a dry run for next time."

The FBI declined to comment on the decision. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the ruling, but said the prosecutor's office was "prepared to destroy the records of the inventory search, which is the relief sought by the plaintiffs in the case."


  1. Thw criminally corrupt scumbag P0S FBLIE are modern day CHEKISTs and should be treated accordingly. Defunded and in many cases executed especially corrupt head prissy Chrissy Wray installed by Trump

  2. Further proof that the government no longer works for the American people. It works for itself. You just pay for it.


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