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Feds Want It, Feds Take It – Civil Asset Forfeiture

In a ruling this week, it was determined that rules did not apply to the government.


Feds Want It, Feds Take It – Civil Asset Forfeiture

by Shari Dovale

Here is a case in which the government saw an opportunity to take someone’s property and claim it as their own, just on their own say-so.

Remember civil asset forfeiture? We reported on the new high tech gadgetry that law enforcement are using to claim property for themselves, based on their belief that the property might have been part of a crime.

Well, they don’t have to use the new-fangled technology to plunder your property. They can do it the old fashioned way. Grab-n-go.

Reuters tells us that The Langbord family, heirs to late Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt, found a cache of exceptionally rare gold coins in a safe deposit box. They asked the Mint to authenticate them, only to have them seized in 2004.

The coins are very rare 1933 double-eagle gold coins, and the government claims the coins were part of a theft from the mint in which Switt aided the thief. However, Switt was never charged in the theft.

The government made an agreement with the family that they (The government) were only to authenticate the coins. However, they contend that they have always owned the coins, so they refused to return them under the original agreement or file for the coins under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act.

Basically, they stole the coins back, and lied to the family to do it.

This case has gone back and forth through the courts for over a decade. In a decision rendered Monday, Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman sided with the government, again. So, it seems that this case will head to the Supreme Court.

Since the most famous auction of these coins drew over $7 million for a single coin, there are high stakes for the Feds to get control of them.

This is just another example of the government salivating over private property. There have been numerous examples of abuse under civil asset forfeiture.

For those that are still not sure if the government is abusing the system, here is a video that surfaced a couple of years ago. In Las Cruces, N.M., where city attorney Pete Connelly talks about civil forfeiture at a conference in Santa Fe, and speaks about Philadelphia making $4 million in civil cases.