• February 21, 2024

FBI Broke the Law in Warrantless Seizure of Safe Deposit Boxes

 FBI Broke the Law in Warrantless Seizure of Safe Deposit Boxes


The FBI broke the law when agents searched hundreds of safe deposit boxes without warrants in 2021, a federal appeals court ruled. The court compared the FBI’s tactics to the kind of indiscriminate searches that led to the enactment of the Bill of Rights in the first place, reports The Intercept.

In March 2021, the FBI raided U.S. Private Vaults, a safe deposit box company in Beverly Hills, California.

The company marketed itself on privacy for clients. It appealed to some illicit operators, but also to people who didn’t trust banks or just wanted privacy.

The FBI seized millions of dollars in cash from the deposit boxes, plus a mix of jewelry, personal effects, and documents such as wills and prenuptial agreements.

In October 2022, a trial judge ruled there were no 4th Amendment violations.

That was just reversed on appeal at the 9th Circuit.

The FBI warrant had omitted key details, such as they were directed to open every box.
“If there remained any doubt regarding whether the government conducted a ‘criminal search or seizure,’” the 9th Circuit ruled, “that doubt is put to rest by the fact the government has already used some of the information from inside the boxes to obtain additional warrants to further its investigation and begin new ones.”

Read more at The Intercept.

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