local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

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local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

Postby M-Quigley » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:55 pm

https://www.whio.com/news/local/immigra ... 67KPNtNKP/

TOLEDO, Ohio — A U.S. citizen who immigrated from Albania has accused U.S. Customs and Border Protection of seizing and keeping his life savings of $58,000 even though he has not been charged with a crime since being strip-searched at an airport last year on a trip back to his native country.

A lawsuit filed against the agency said it missed an April deadline either to return the money or start criminal proceedings. It says 64-year-old Rustem Kazazi was carrying the cash because he wanted to avoid transaction fees and thought it would be safer than trying to withdraw large sums of money in Albania, where he planned to repair a family home and was considering buying a vacation home.

Attorneys for Kazazi, who lives in suburban Cleveland, said the airport seizure highlights a practice civil rights groups have criticized for years — the government's use of civil forfeitures that allows law enforcement to take possessions without indictments or evidence a crime has been committed.

Opponents argue it opens the door for constitutional rights violations.

The Virginia-based Institute for Justice, which is handling the lawsuit filed last week, has previously sued Customs and Border Protection in two forfeiture cases in Texas, including one against a Houston-area nurse traveling to Nigeria to build a medical clinic.


This to me was the most interesting quote in the article.

"We should be convicting people of crimes before we strip them of their property — at a minimum they should first be charged," said Wesley Hottot, an attorney with the organization. "This is an un-American law enforcement tool."


Gee, I wonder what other situations this could apply to, taking peoples property without first allowing for due process? :?:
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Re: local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

Postby Bruenor » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:23 pm

I wonder if he had filled out the declaration form for the cash initially if he would have avoided the entire headache, this whole hullabaloo because he didn't take 5 minuted to fill out the forms before hand. I dunno if I buy he was going to fill it out before the International leg of the journey during the layover, and obviously CBP wondered too. you never know with airlines your flight may be delayed and you're scrambling for the next flight with no time to fill out declaration forms.. best to do all that ahead of time. you know like while you were counting your life savings repeatedly at the kitchen table and banding it.

The other issue with Civil forfeiture is that you've stripped funds from many these law enforcement groups, then told them they get to keep a percentage of all forfeitures. Whats a bureaucrat to do when you wave free money in front of him ? Obviously he's going to instruct his worker bees to focus on Civil Forfeitures to fund his organization. That causes a whole lot of other problems for the innocent, especially if they can't afford to fight to get their property back.
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Re: local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

Postby djthomas » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:48 am

Bruenor wrote:I wonder if he had filled out the declaration form for the cash initially if he would have avoided the entire headache, this whole hullabaloo because he didn't take 5 minuted to fill out the forms before hand. I dunno if I buy he was going to fill it out before the International leg of the journey during the layover, and obviously CBP wondered too. you never know with airlines your flight may be delayed and you're scrambling for the next flight with no time to fill out declaration forms.. best to do all that ahead of time. you know like while you were counting your life savings repeatedly at the kitchen table and banding it.

That's all well and good but the rules specifically say that the form is to be filed "at the time of departure from the United States" You can fill it out at your kitchen table or on your domestic flight to the international airport but it's not official until you file it, and you can't file it until you are actually leaving the US. This guy hadn't even made it to his airport of international departure yet.

It's kind of like FOPA. Jurisdictions can and have taken the position that it doesn't cover you changing transportation methods, e.g. going from your rental car to the airline check in counter. Such arrests are certainly not the spirit of the law but plenty of folks have gotten jammed up over it. When it's convenient for the arresting officers to interpret the rules one way they can, and do.

Here's my bigger problem with it. TSA is responsible for keeping dangerous items off commercial aircraft. Cash, in any quantity, is not dangerous. Once the security screening is otherwise done they have no right to further detain somebody while waiting for CBP to come investigate.
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Re: local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

Postby kcclark » Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:30 am

Feds are offering to return the $ but there is a disagreement over how much $ the Feds took.

But that's not how much they took, Kazazi maintains. They're short $770, and so he indicated that he will wait for his trial — scheduled for Dec. 10, 2018 as of now — to seek the total sum.


https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2018/06/08/feds-offer-to-return-57330-seized-from-legal-immigrant-at-hopkins-airport-he-says-theyre-short-770-and-hell-wait-for-trial

I'd take the $ now. I can make up the $770 by investing it between now and December.
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Re: local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

Postby WhyNot » Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:22 am

and don't forget to add a $$$ amount within the trial or subsequent proceedings for damages i.e. loss of use, loss of trip & air fair, neighbors now looking at him ''differently' , etc.
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Re: local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

Postby M-Quigley » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:30 am

When money is taken in this fashion, isn't there some kind of written record? Does the person get any kind of receipt or documentation on how much was taken?
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Re: local legal immigrant says agents seized life savings

Postby djthomas » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:05 pm

M-Quigley wrote:When money is taken in this fashion, isn't there some kind of written record? Does the person get any kind of receipt or documentation on how much was taken?

Yes, but the gentleman stated that the receipt given to him did not match the amount taken. He claims to have only carried $100 bills, so any receipt ending in $330 is inaccurate. Part of the problem here is that English is not the man's first language and he was unable to fully comprehend what was going on. I suspect he went along to get along and it wasn't until later that he and his family came to realize what the receipt actually said. I have to be honest: if I was in a foreign land with no interpretor, lawyer, or access to my family and men with guns were giving me a piece of paper that was pretty close and pointing to the door I probably wouldn't look back until later either.

I want to be careful with my next statement because I'm not victim blaming at all. BUT ... the family has done a good job of showing him as perhaps a bit befuddled. It's certainly plausible that he was a bit short on the actual total (he claims $58,100 and the government claims $57,330, which is only three bills in a stack of 581). As to the extra $30, since they strip searched him and thoroughly tossed his belongings maybe they found another $30 in his wallet or tucked in pocket somewhere.

At the end of the day $770 is so de minimis it's not worth pushing the point. I hope the judge strongly urges the feds to just concede $58,100 and move on. They'll spend way more than $770 in resource time preparing for a trial that they will no doubt lose.
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