Law enforcement seizes $115,000 from couple, unjust civil forfeiture

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Dec 11, 2023.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Secret Service seizes $115K from couple's bank account, Fox Business

    interview by Stuart Varney, Fox News

    transcript from video

    The Secret Service seized 115 thousand dollars from precious metals dealers Tom and Marla Bednar. They allege they made suspicious withdrawals, under $10,000 each time. That's a practice known as "structuring". They did get the money back, but the government will not cover their legal bill, which is $25,000.
    Tom and Marla Bednar join us now from Raleigh, North Carolina.
    Tom, I want to know what was your reaction when you first heard the Feds had just taken your money.

    Tom: "I was very shocked that something like this could happen in America. I was in disbelief when I first learned of the fact from out bank vice president saying that we have no money in our account, and that we had approxomately an hour to come to the bank with a little over $18,000 so that we could make good on checks that were coming due that day."

    No federal agent appeared on your doorstep and said we're doing this because of this, this and this. You found out from the bank?

    Marla: "That's correct. The bank vice president called that morning, spoke to me. She was somewhat hysterical and said that 'Your money is all gone, Marla, and you have bills that are going to be due within an hour, and if you don't cover this, you're going to fall in default."

    Did the Feds ever explain to you what you had supposedly done wrong?

    Tom: "No, there was never any explanation, there was never any warning. Absolutely nothing."

    Marla, how are you going to pay the $25,000 legal bill? Because you got to pay.

    Marla: "Well, the only way we have been surviving so far -- because unlike other people we actually lost our business as a result of this -- most people who have gone through a civil asset forfeiture may lose their money but their business stays intact. However for us, the people that we have done business with will no longer work with us. We have lost our reputation, we have lost just about everything, and for this year the way we've survived is that we are selling off -- through auction -- things that we were saving supposedly for our retirement."

    Tom and Marla, you are classic examples as to why this rule on 'structuring' must be ended.
    Thank you very much for your time today. We do appreciate you coming and telling your story. It is shocking indeed.

    =====

    The Bednars, who operated a precious metal business in Raleigh, are about to finally receive their money back after months of litigation.

    In August of 2014, Tom Bednar was halted by an unmarked police car and arrested. His wife was arrested separately, and their children detained.
    They were questioned and accused of operating without a license, while officers ransacked their home for eight hours. They left it in a "state of shambles" and "destroyed a lot of our property," Bednar said in an interview.

    After feds wrongfully seize $115,000 from North Carolina family, their business is left devastated, by Maria Santos, Washington Examiner, June 23, 2015

    =====

    The Bednars ran Marla Enterprises/Triangle Gold in Raleigh until they got caught up in a law that lets the U.S. Justice Department seize the assets of individuals and businesses that it thinks might be connected to something criminal. The federal government snatched the Bednars' bank account after Raleigh police charged them last Aug. 14 with violating state licensing requirements for dealing in precious metals and for not having a city permit to do business in their home.

    The charges were dropped in Wake County District Court in November, records show. But bigger problems had begun. After their arrest, the U.S. Secret Service looked at their Capital Bank business bank account and saw several withdrawals "just under" the $10,000 limit at which banks must report transactions to the government. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven A. West used the agency's report to ask for a federal warrant to take everything in their business accounts, and he got it.

    The process used against the Bednars and McLellan is called civil forfeiture because the government does not have to prove a crime happened or even accuse anyone. Owners have to fight in court to get their property back. According to the Secret Service report, the Bednars' account showed 28 suspicious cash withdrawals between Jan. 6 and May 29, 2014, that ranged from $3,000 to $9,850. The Bednars' attorneys said in court papers that the report did not give a fair picture of activity in the bank account. "The declaration failed to note that, during the same period, the Bednars engaged in multiple cash transactions that exceeded $10,000," the lawyers wrote.

    For their business, the Bednars bought precious metals from pawn brokers, auction houses, second-hand shops and the like, melted down the metal and then resold it to refiners. Tom Bednar said those transactions were often in cash.

    Two business transactions last year triggered the Bednars' troubles. John Malone, one of the couple’s attorneys, said their problems began when Tom Bednar bought jewelry from a man named Payton Matthews. Bednar said Matthews told him he worked at his mother’s store in South Carolina, showed Bednar his driver's license and told a detailed story of having done business before with a Raleigh rare-coin dealer with whom the Bednars also had done business. But Matthews real name was Steven Earl Taylor and he was being investigated by the Moore County police for multiple burglaries and thefts.

    The Bednars were drawn into the investigation when Moore County officers found the couple's business cards in Taylor’s wallet.
    Moore County officers alerted the Raleigh police, who charged the Bednars with the license violations. Bednar had not recorded detailed information from Matthews' driver's license as licensed retail businesses are supposed to do when making such transactions. In the arrest warrants, Raleigh detectives also said they believed the Bednars had bought stolen jewelry from Matthews/Taylor, but they did not charge the couple with that. On the day the Bednars were arrested, Moore County investigators searched their home.
    The searchers left a mess, Bednar and his lawyer said, but found no stolen goods. They took computers, cell phones and notebooks with business records that the Bednars say they still do not have back. "They kept trying to connect dots that don't exist," Tom Bednar said in a recent interview. "Why would I engage with an individual like that after a 30-year-career?" Bednar said.

    In November (2014 ), the Bednars won dismissal of the local charges, partly on the grounds that they were not going to be doing business with individuals in the future and did not need the license they were charged with not having.

    The precious-metals businesses requires a "squeaky clean" reputation, so the arrest and the government's seizing of their bank account "caused irreparable damage," Tom Bednar said.

    The forfeiture law gives local and state law enforcement agencies 80 percent of seized assets if they bring a federal agency into their case.

    Raleigh couple still awaiting money seized by Feds, by Ron Gallagher, June 22, 2015
    The News & Observer (Wake County)
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2023
  2. FatBack

    FatBack Well-Known Member

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    "Bednar had not recorded detailed information from Matthews' driver's license as licensed retail businesses are supposed to do when making such transactions. "

    As much as I hate hearing about things like this, the above information provides a lot of ammunition for the federal government's actions.

    In other words they were legally required to gather that information and failed to do so.

    Does this justify everything the government did? Most probably not but it does give them a leg to stand on.
     
  3. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    He probably was not aware of the requirement. It can be hard for ordinary people to keep aware and abreast of all the laws that exist.

    The government seems to be requiring more and more information whenever people carry out transactions.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2023
  4. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    this is the problem with the war on drugs, it allowed this nonsense

    check this one out

     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2023
  5. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    the problem is that they are not charging them with a crime, it's just take the money and run
     
  6. FatBack

    FatBack Well-Known Member

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    if you are in the business, you should make it a point to educate yourself
     
  7. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It sounds like not recording all the information in the driver's license may have just been a technicality, since law enforcement were looking (after the fact) for anything possible Tom had done wrong to justify what they had done.
    It must have a been a fake driver's license that the criminal (Taylor) showed them, so I'm not even sure how recording all the information would have helped stop the crime.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2023
  8. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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  9. Eleuthera

    Eleuthera Well-Known Member Donor

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  10. Eleuthera

    Eleuthera Well-Known Member Donor

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    So it is today in the Land Of The Free and Home of The Brave, a country that spreads "democracy" all around the globe with bombs and drones.
     

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