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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    05.20.18 @ 03:38 PM
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    Default Federal agents took more money and stuff from Americans in 2014 than burglars did

    Federal agents took more money and stuff from Americans in 2014 than burglars did

    In 2014, the federal government confiscated some $4.5 billion from Americans through civil asset forfeiture, according to a recent report from the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law and research organization.

    That’s a figure which has been growing rapidly in recent years—as recently as 2008 it was “just” $1.5 billion, and there’s compelling evidence that law enforcement agencies use this license to bolster their budgets in lean years.

    In the words of one officer, civil asset forfeiture funds are “kind of like pennies from heaven. It gets you a toy or something that you need is the way that we typically look at it to be perfectly honest.”

    That $4.5 billion figure is shocking on its own.

    But it’s even more shocking when you put it in this perspective: in that same year, FBI records show burglars took only $3.9 billion from Americans.

    So in 2014, the federal government took more money and stuff from Americans than actual burglars did.

    Our government is “getting really good at separating the citizen from their property — not just really good, criminally good.”

    This comparison is even more appalling when you consider that many people whose money or stuff is taken through civil asset forfeiture are never charged or convicted with any crime.

    That’s because it essentially allows a police officer who finds you “suspicious” to just take your stuff.

    Once your property has been confiscated, the burden of proof is on you, not the police, to show that you didn’t get it from any criminal activity. Even if you personally are cleared of all charges, that may not matter. As the Philadelphia City Paper reports, “Technically, it’s the property—not its owner—that’s being accused of criminality, which means the property can be subject to forfeiture whether or not its owner is ever convicted of a crime.”

    In other words, they don’t have to charge you. They don’t have to present any evidence of illegal activity. In fact, you have no right to a lawyer and won’t get a day in court. In some jurisdictions, you actually have to pay thousands of dollars just to be able to contest the seizure.

    And guess what? The police conveniently happen to consider large amounts of cash very suspicious indeed—but not too suspicious to dump it right into their own department coffers.

    Read more about civil asset forfeiture here, and click here to learn how it functions in your state.

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  2. #2
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    05.19.18 @ 08:14 AM
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    Fulton Co. couple sue IRS agents
    Scrap yard owners accuse agency of stealing $1.9M cash during ’12 raid


    A Fulton County couple once suspected of tax evasion has filed a lawsuit against more than a dozen federal tax investigators, accusing the agents of violating their rights and pocketing nearly $1.9 million during a 2012 raid on their scrap metal recycling business.

    In their complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Todd and Carrie Zappone detail a brazen search of their home and business that included Internal Revenue Service agents breaking down their front door with a battering ram, detaining them at gunpoint, disabling video surveillance, and accusing them of being drug dealers.

    Perhaps most shocking, the Zappones said agents seized more than $3 million in cash from Mr. Zappone’s safe at Ohio Scrap Corp. near Delta, but recorded collecting only about $1.3 million.

    “[Agents] ransacked the house, maced the dog, took control of the business all day long, and helped themselves to $1.886 million of cash,” said Stephen Dunn, a Michigan attorney who is representing the Zappones.

    Mr. Dunn characterized the agents conducting the raid as “cowboys” who either didn’t know the law or didn’t care. The suit names 13 agents, though it says more could be added. The federal government may also be added to the suit in the future. Court records don’t list attorneys for the 13 defendants.

    The Zappones are seeking unspecified restitution and damages, on top of a claim for the $1.9 million they say was stolen from their safe.

    A spokesman for the IRS said the agency couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

    The IRS investigation into the Zappones and their business centered on series of bank withdrawals of just less than $10,000. Federal law aimed at preventing money laundering requires financial institutions to report transactions of $10,000 or more. Using multiple withdrawals to get around those reporting guidelines is called structuring, and it can be illegal.

    Mr. Dunn said the Zappones had taken the money out that way at the advice of bank tellers who were trying to avoid having to take the time to file the reports. He said they needed cash on hand to buy scrap, and that they were planning to purchase several new pieces of machinery.

    Mr. Dunn said that, even if the IRS suspected tax offenses, conducting a raid without first initiating a civil investigation was wholly inappropriate.

    “In my 30 years as a tax lawyer, I’ve never seen a criminal investigation in something like that that did not follow a civil investigation first.”

    The Zappones have never been charged with a crime.

    It wasn’t clear whether they were still under investigation. Mr. Dunn said he did not know, and an IRS spokesman wrote in an email to The Blade that he could not comment.

    “Due to our disclosure laws and privacy act laws I am not at liberty to discuss the existence or nonexistence of an investigation,” IRS spokesman Craig Casserly said.

    Court records show a settlement has been reached over the $1.3 million that was seized in the Nov. 8, 2012, raid, though details weren’t available.

    Mr. Dunn said some of the money will go to paying back taxes the Zappones owed, while the rest will go to a bank that had loaned the Zappones money for their business. The government also will provide $140,000 to cover the Zappones’ legal fees, Mr. Dunn said.

    The lawsuit filed this week said the Zappones lost their business and their reputations as a result of the agents’ actions.

    “They live in a small community and people would look at them differently and think about them differently. That really hurt them. We want to rebuild their good name and we’re in the process of doing that,” Mr. Dunn said. “But beyond that, what the federal government did here cannot go unanswered.”


  3. #3
    Forum Frontman fudd's Avatar
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    Thought this was Fulton county Georgia for a second.

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