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Judge stymies feds' plan — again — to keep $85 million in raid without filing criminal charges


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Just the News

The feds faced another setback in their quest to keep $85 million in assets seized in a raid without charging hundreds of safe deposit box renters with a crime.


U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner issued a preliminary injunction July 16 in a lawsuit by several customers of Los Angeles-based U.S. Private Vaults (USPV), who alleged the FBI denied them due process by providing civil forfeiture notices that lacked "any legal basis" for seizing the contents of each box.

The feds indicted USPV for conspiracy to sell drugs and launder money, but not its customers, even while portraying them as an undifferentiated mass of criminals.

But the judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) last month, finding that the seizure notices fell "woefully short" of providing the "specific statutory provision," such as forgery or smuggling, under which the assets were seized.

Ordered by Klausner to "show cause" on why he shouldn't halt seizures until ruling on the merits of the case, the feds responded June 29 by disputing that the initial notice of forfeiture proceedings, "standing alone, must set forth the factual details and legal basis that support forfeiture.":snip:

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