Federal authorities have suffered two new court setbacks in their attempt to confiscate tens of millions of dollars seized from Beverly Hills safe deposit boxes that the government was legally barred from searching.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, in rulings issued Friday, rejected prosecutors’ rationale for keeping the cash that two people stored in the boxes they rented at the U.S. Private Vaults store on West Olympic Boulevard.
The FBI is trying to confiscate about $86 million in cash and millions more in jewelry and other valuables that agents found in about 369 boxes, based on unspecified allegations of criminal wrongdoing conducted by the box holders. The warrants authorizing the March raid of the store prohibited the government from searching whatever was inside roughly 800 boxes that contained valuables, because the FBI did not show that it had probable cause to believe that evidence of crimes would be found in each one.
In the case of one box holder who sued the government under a pseudonym to recover more than $914,000 in cash that was seized, Klausner rejected prosecutors’ request to dismiss the case, saying the government had “made no showing that there is anything illicit” about the person’s money.
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