Sunday, October 13, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) In yet another example of how the federal bureaucracy was not established to aid and assist American liberty and entrepreneurship, a small-time grocer, who has his life savings wrapped up in his business, is now in danger of losing everything, compliments of Uncle Sam’s Administrative State.
According to the Institute for Justice, a non-profit libertarian civil rights legal group, the Feds appear to have seized more than $35,000 from Terry Dehko and his family, through “civil forfeiture” laws, without justification or good cause.
From the institute, per a web release:
Can the government use civil forfeiture to take your money when you have done nothing wrong – and then pocket the proceeds? That is the question to be answered by a major federal lawsuit filed today by Terry and Sandy Dehko – owners of a family grocery store in Fraser, Mich. – and the Institute for Justice (IJ). In January 2013, Terry and Sandy were astonished to discover the federal government seized their entire checking account without warning, even though the Dehkos did nothing wrong.
They can seize it all – without ever charging you with a crime
“Federal forfeiture law allows the government to take your entire bank account just because it doesn’t like the way you deposit or withdraw your money,” said IJ Senior Attorney Clark Neily. “The government should not be allowed to just show up at your doorstep like a playground bully and take away your milk money. But that’s exactly what the government did to Terry and Sandy.”
How does that happen in America?
Well, according to the IJ, here’s the story.
Like virtually all grocers, Terry and Sandy receive cash every day from their customers (can I get a “duh” here?). They long ago adopted a common sense approach to dealing with that issue by not letting too much cash accumulate in their store.
Besides the obvious – they don’t want to become a target for thieves – there is more to it. Their insurance policy specifically limits their coverage for theft of other loss of cash to just $10,000, which is a common provision for small-business policies, IJ says.
Enter the long arm of the government.
Recipe for abuse
As Natural News readers know, the federal government has been unconstitutionally collecting vast amounts of data on Americans, including business owners who deal with cash, like Terry and Sandy. Per IJ:
In 2001, the Patriot Act amended federal law to make it easier for the government to seize money and other private property through civil forfeiture. Federal law requires banks to report cash transactions above $10,000, and it is illegal to “structure” cash deposits for the purpose of avoiding this requirement.
Because of these onerous rules, the wonderfully benevolent (insert sarcasm here) IRS paid Terry and Sandy a visit in 2010 to review their long-time banking practices. A couple years later, in 2012, the tax agency conducted an anti-money-laundering investigation of the couple’s store, reviewing their books and policies thoroughly. In the end, they got the IRS’ stamp of approval. After the audit, the agency sent the couple a letter clarifying that “no violations [of banking laws] were identified.”
But nine months later, the IRS obtained a secret warrant and cleaned out Terry and Sandy’s entire bank account (over $35,000) “on the grounds that their frequent cash deposits – deposits of which the IRS should have been well aware when it issued its clean bill of health – violated federal ‘structuring’ law,” said the IJ. In the months since, the Feds have never charged Terry and Sandy with any crimes, but the government refuses to return their money.
What a cash cow for a cash-strapped government
In the meantime, the couple is eagerly awaiting a hearing before a judge so they can attempt to recoup their stolen money.
Despite being unbelievably unconstitutional, civil forfeiture laws allow the government to blatantly violate due process by giving it the “authority” to steal private property from Americans without ever even charging them with a crime. Worse, the government then pockets the money without giving Americans who have had their money “seized” a prompt way to get a court to examine the seizure.
And as such, it has turned into a cash cow for a cash-strapped government that spends a trillion dollars more a year than it receives.
“Last year alone, the government took in more than four billion dollars in forfeiture money,” said IJ Attorney Larry Salzman. “Taking money from innocent people like Terry and Sandy is wrong. Thankfully, the Dehkos are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court if that’s what it takes to vindicate the right to private property for Americans everywhere.”