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Bombshell LA Times Report: FBI Misled Judge Who OK’d Warrant for Beverly Hills Seizure of $86 million

Bombshell LA Times Report: FBI Misled Judge Who OK’d Warrant for Beverly Hills Seizure of $86 million

There is currently a class-action lawsuit by box holders who say the raid violated their rights.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been very busy, between raids on President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, carpet-bombing subpoenas ahead of the mid-terms, and swatting the home of a Catholic pro-life activist.

The Los Angeles Times published a bombshell report that the FBI neglected to tell the judge who approved a warrant for a March 2021  raid on the U.S Private Vaults store in Beverly Hills that the agency intended to keep the money its agents pried out of every safe deposit box containing $5,000 or more in cash.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the failure of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles to disclose the confiscation plan in the raid request was revealed in FBI documents and depositions of agents in a class-action lawsuit by box holders who say the raid violated their rights. The specific information about the agencies’ alleged scheme to bag for themselves the contents of all $5000-and-over deposit boxes comes from recent testimony by a senior FBI agent.

The raid—which the government justified on the presumption that hundreds of box holders were hoarding illegally-gotten assets—was particularly intrusive.

Federal agents descending on the Olympic Boulevard strip mall location manhandled the personal belongings of a jazz saxophone player, an interior designer, a retired doctor, a flooring contractor and a couple of Century City lawyers, among hundreds of others, notes the Times. Feds also made video and photo records of customers’ most sensitive documents: pay stubs, password lists, credit cards, a prenuptial agreement, immigration and vaccination records, bank statements and a will all made it into government databases, court docs show.

…The court filings further indicate that federal agents defied restrictions that U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Kim set in the warrant when they searched through box holders’ belongings for evidence of crimes.

The raid took five days to complete and netted more than $86 million in cash and a bonanza of gold, silver, rare coins, gem-studded jewelry, and high-end watches.

The U.S. attorney’s office has tried to block public disclosure of court papers that laid bare the government’s deception, but a judge rejected its request to keep them under seal. There is a class-action lawsuit by box holders who say the raid violated their rights.

“The government did not know what was in those boxes, who owned them, or what, if anything, those people had done,” Robert Frommer, a lawyer who represents nearly 400 box holders in the class-action case, wrote in court papers.

“That’s why the warrant application did not even attempt to argue there was probable cause to seize and forfeit box renters’ property.”

…The plaintiffs in the class-action suit have asked U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner to declare the raid unconstitutional. If he grants the request, it could force the FBI to return millions of dollars to box holders whose assets it has tried to confiscate.

It could also spoil an unknown number of criminal investigations by blocking prosecutors from using any evidence or information acquired in the raid, including guns and drugs.

Private Vaults was charged with conspiracy to sell drugs and launder money.

The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office denied that they misled the judge or ignored his conditions, saying they had no obligation to tell him of the plan for indiscriminate confiscations on the blanket assumption that every customer was hiding crime-tainted assets.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the warrants were lawfully executed “based on allegations of widespread criminal wrongdoing.”

“At no time was a magistrate misled as to the probable cause used to obtain the warrants,” she said.

U.S. Private Vaults has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder drug money, and the investigation is continuing, she said.

A news report from last year about the raid:

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Comments

CBS airs 3 FBI shows on Tuesday nights. I don’t want any part of seeing them any more. I remember “The FBI” on tv in the mid 1960. The world has changed and not for the better.

smalltownoklahoman | September 27, 2022 at 11:24 am

“The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office denied that they misled the judge or ignored his conditions, saying they had no obligation to tell him of the plan for indiscriminate confiscations on the blanket assumption that EVERY CUSTOMER was hiding crime-tainted assets.”

FIB: Yes every customer! No one not engaged in criminal activity would ever use a private institution to safeguard their important possessions.

And some wonder why trust in our government is at an all time low.

The Tonton Macoute is at it again, this is my surprised face.

Which is in the constitution:

“…based on allegations of widespread criminal wrongdoing.”

or

…particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to George S. | September 27, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    If it is in the text of the Constitution, the current assumption [not rebuttable] of the government is that it is null and void.

    Subotai Bahadur

A progressive condition that accompanies playing with a double-edged scalpel.

taurus the judge | September 27, 2022 at 11:49 am

This is absolutely surreal.

I give LE a good deal of leeway and flexibility because I understand what the real deal is. ( and take flak for it at times)

Conduct like this is just indefensible and outright criminal.

The DOJ is clearly a rogue organization now fully in league with the left.

    “I give LE a good deal of leeway and flexibility because I understand what the real deal is.”

    The FBI isn’t law enforcement.

      taurus the judge in reply to malclave. | September 28, 2022 at 7:27 am

      Yes I know they “officially” claim by charter they are a “security” agency and a national police force is prohibited specifically by the Constitution.

      Reality is they have all the power of a LE agency, use all the tools, perform all the functions so where is any “difference” in this distinction?

      They walk, look and quack like a duck.

    I avoid LE at all costs. They all sold their souls to the devil when they started to take Unkle Sam’s leftovers from the wars in the sand box and playing GI Joe on everyday people. MRAPS, tactical garb from head to toe, those scary black rifles and the attitudes as well. Just remember too, LE will protect those who cut their paychecks and run roughshod over everyone else.
    The FBEYE needs to go the way of the dust bin and never come back in any form, along with a multitude of other administrative state alphabet soup agencies that are driving this country into the ground my mini-tyrants and megalomaniacs

    JackinSilverSpring in reply to taurus the judge. | September 28, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    The FBI delende est.

This is exactly the kind of thing that happens in third world banana republics ruled by tyrannical one-party regimes.

The Regime’s state security police consider it compensation for all their hard work in support of the Regime. And most likely some of the safe deposit box owners were designated enemies of the state. The ones that weren’t won’t dare come forward, for fear of being targeted by the Regime’s state security police as trouble makers.

    Personally, I would not have a safe deposit box in this climate . . . unless you are working to destroy America with Team Biden and the America Last brigade.

    And it won’t be long, if this continues on this trajectory, before bank/retirement accounts are confiscated for “The Greater Good” (TM) or because the account holders are “domestic terrorists” engaged in sedition and/or insurrection against Dear Leader. That, too, happens in third world banana republics and assorted tyrannical regimes.

The FBI is totally out of control.
At this point, I can’t see any way forward other than defund and disband.

So, judge….whatcha gonna do about it?

Let’s start naming names of the FBI perps involved.

Until agents are held personally liable for breaching their oath to uphold the constitution, this will continue to happen. What’s the downside to the agent?

Some might say that this would have a chilling effect on law enforcement, and agents of the state. To which I respond, that’s exactly what the constitution is intended to do.

    taurus the judge in reply to bigskydoc. | September 27, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    @bigskydoc

    Be careful now (make sure you are shooting at the right target)

    In this case specifically ( based on media information and we know how reliable that is)

    It “appears” the US Attorney is the one who may have lied- not the agents executing the warrants.

    Everybody has to remember the “individual” agent is NOT EMPOWERED or has decision rights to make a judgement call against instructions given him through the chain of command. (he can object but even then, that’s a process) except in the most extreme of situations.

    A soldier cannot make a determination on the “legality” of an order either except in extreme cases.

    Cause and effect- we need to cut the head off first at the leadership and attorney level. That’s where most problems seem to initiate.

    And that’s NOT giving the field agent any cover or an out but most of those desires about “violating oaths or doing “excessive” things come from a totally unrealistic “romantic” view of law and ethics that simply doesn’t exist in the first place.

    Many agents actions are illegal but most are not. (“right and wrong” along with “too much” are wholly subjective and not even going to be addressed)

    Address the illegal and demonstrably “improper” ( defined as against established protocol, policy or procedure when applied correctly) conduct of an agent as required.

      This seems pretty straightforward. Did the Agents, under color of law, size property of individuals for whom there was no probable cause of criminal action? Did these Agents participate in an unlawful action, an unconstitutional seizure is by definition unlawful because no unconstitutional act can be lawful.

      The media accounts seem to indicate that’s what occurred. Let’s cut the individual Agents some slack here for actions on that day. Did anyone wonder after weeks and months passed just why the contents of the boxes hadn’t been returned to their owners? Did they raise that issue with superiors? Did they make a whistleblower complaint? Did they reach out to Congress?

      Heck, did the agents who executed the operation read the warrant to determine what their objective was or the limitations in scope? It sure seems like the Agents did what they were told and didn’t ask questions or raise any issues of potential constitutional violations. I can understand why they would do so but that understanding doesn’t extend to remove culpability if they participated in unlawful activity. Choosing not to know, which seems like what is happening a lot these days can’t be tolerated.

        taurus the judge in reply to CommoChief. | September 27, 2022 at 1:45 pm

        @ Chief

        You>>>Did the Agents, under color of law, size property of individuals for whom there was no probable cause of criminal action? Did these Agents participate in an unlawful action, an unconstitutional seizure is by definition unlawful because no unconstitutional act can be lawful.

        We do not know. All we have are claims ( with no supporting evidence at this time).

        Personally, I have problems with what we used to call a “shotgun” warrant. (I cannot believe a judge signed an order to open ALL boxes and confiscate ALL contents without a direct connection between the box owner and a codified crime)

        Right up there with Trump, I want to see THIS affidavit for cause. I have never heard of a warrant this broad.

        Question 1- was the cause for this broad a warrant justified in the first place. (that is the root of this poison vine)

        IF IT TURNS OUT TO BE…

        Question 2- did the field agents exceed the scope of the warrant? ( without the actual warrant and affidavit- we can only speculate)

        Question 3- ( this ONLY applies to a legally valid shotgun warrant)- lets say there are 26 boxes belong to people named A-Z.

        Only people B,D,J and L are formally charged with crime “6”.

        Where and what is the disposition for the other 22 people’s stuff?

        I cringe at commenting on a case solely on sketchy media information but if true- this isn’t “wrong” ( in a procedural sense)- this is an actual CRIMINAL ACT.

        taurus the judge in reply to CommoChief. | September 27, 2022 at 3:09 pm

        Chief,

        I found the complaint and read it. Based on the wording in the complaint
        https://ij.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/USPV-Amended-Complaint.pdf

        It seems the agents did in fact exceed the warrant and not just at the field level but at the administrative level. ( basically a civil conspiracy)

        It also seems the agency did not follow its own internal policies and contact people regarding returns.

        This conduct is simply inexcusable.

          Indeed it is and IMO, each participant and everyone with knowledge of these events who didn’t affirmatively raise objections in writing should be changed with theft of property and participation in a conspiracy.

          Those actions would go a very long way towards the early stages of housecleaning at our federal agencies. No more admonishment or reprimanding via a multiyear IG probe. No more retire today to keep a pension. Eff that. It doesn’t provide enough deterrent, if it did we wouldn’t keep finding more instances of abusive, negligent or criminal acts.

          taurus the judge in reply to taurus the judge. | September 28, 2022 at 7:56 am

          @ Chief,

          You>>>each participant and everyone with knowledge of these events who didn’t affirmatively raise objections in writing should be changed with theft of property and participation in a conspiracy.

          ASSUMING THE CLAIMS IN THE SUIT ARE CORRECT AS LINKED ABOVE….

          That’s absolutely correct. Every single participant is an accessory to some degree.

          There are some grey areas and always “opinions” about what is and is not excessive and almost always rules are “bent” into a pretzel-none of that is new or unusual.

          This particular situation is so clear and out in the open defiance of a written order.= that there is no excuse that can be accepted.

          From the claim, we don’t know specifically what the “cause” for the initial search warrant ( the business who leases the boxes) but lets “assume”( for discussion sake) it was legit. Its routine to get business records and all that.

          Lets say this was an “auto shop”- ok, they got the cash register and books- that leaves customers cars ( the individual boxes)- they would be able to perform a cursory look inside for evidence normally. ( which according to the claim- the judge allowed but put the proper restrictions in place

          Normally in a case like this a warrant would include “property on premises” that had was under the direct “control” of the primary subject. (first to see if any was an accomplice but then for inventory purposes pending return)

          By all accounts in the claim- that’s where this went sideways in execution ( the fact it was claimed to be premeditated in the first case is a different charge altogether)

          So, we have 2 choices here

          Either the entire raid ( from concept to execution) was a premeditated criminal act just like any other robbery which is what it would be if the claim that this was designed with the intent to confiscate with no probable cause.

          Or

          We have individual agents ( over multiple departments it seems) acting individually or in a conspiracy to violate law and procedure.

          Either one needs swift investigation and prosecution.

          Taurus,

          Agreed. That’s why I am willing to cut the agents some slack on the day of the seizure. The warrant allowed for the act on that day.

          Afterwards as the weeks turn into months and the seized property hasn’t been returned then these folks have an obligation to raise concerns. Those who did, let’s cut some slack. Those who didn’t and just kept their head down and mouth shut…not so much.

          The problem is this sort of seizure where folks must prove their innocence or really the innocence of the property seized ie far too commonplace. That’s probably the reason that not many if any internal objections were raised. It wasn’t that far out of the ordinary.

          taurus the judge in reply to taurus the judge. | September 28, 2022 at 10:56 am

          @ Chief

          You>>>The problem is this sort of seizure where folks must prove their innocence or really the innocence of the property seized ie far too commonplace. That’s probably the reason that not many if any internal objections were raised. It wasn’t that far out of the ordinary.

          This commentary is based on the claim in the suit so that’s how accurate and relevant it is.

          ACCORDING TO THE CLAIM, all the warrant “authorized” was what is the typical “inventory search” ( for 3rd party things involved in the execution of a SW basically a “look-see” to see what it is and establish who owns it to be processes for return to the owner)

          SCOTUS has allowed that as a “minor” 4th infraction right up there with a traffic stop and a Terry stop.

          From the complaint, its not about the people “proving their innocence” ( that would preclude those people actually being “charged” with some degree of offense)- this is MUCH WORSE.

          According to the complaint, their property was seized without warrant, without cause and without compensation with deliberate effort to “chill” the recovery by the legal owners under color of law with premeditated intent to do so.

          This is much more severe and sinister than the routine “making up a charge” trick.

      “Everybody has to remember the “individual” agent is NOT EMPOWERED or has decision rights to make a judgement call against instructions given him through the chain of command.” How many Nazis tried that excuse as they went on their morning walk?

        taurus the judge in reply to MarkS. | September 27, 2022 at 1:47 pm

        @ Mark

        Put it in PROPER CONTEXT

        Only FIELD GRADE officers and officials ( those with the inherent authority to INTERPRET THOSE ORDERS) were charged under that crime for the VERY REASON I quoted above.

        You may not have intended to but you made my point for me- thanks

Why is this a bombshell? It seems that it is now standard operating procedure for the Gestapo to either lie by omission or by commission to get warrants. Then, they use those warrants to go on further fishing expeditions. It will not stop until they start imposing a very high cost on the agents that are involved in these things, like serious prison time in general population where their jumpsuit is embroidered with “I heart the FBI.”

If you have anything in a bank vault box, I would go confirm that you items are still there. There have been reports of people finding out they’ve been robbed.

retiredcantbefired | September 27, 2022 at 1:32 pm

The lead attorney on this case, Robert Frommer, is with the Institute for Justice. An organization worthy of your support—they took this case because it fits their long-standing campaign against gross abuses of civil asset forfeiture. The revelations about the Magistrate Judge being lied to are new. Otherwise, the case has been covered several times on IJ’s website. Senior FBI officials had apparently been planning to seize the contents of every safe deposit box well in advance of the application for the warrant.

    taurus the judge in reply to retiredcantbefired. | September 27, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    I read that

    If that’s true (and I personally believe the claim to be true but it has yet to be proven), that raises an even worse question

    What prompted these Sr. Officials to zero in on this establishment and its contents in the first place. What did they know ( or suspect) was there and how did they know it?

      The govt at all levels use mere possession of cash or valuables to assert criminal activities. It’s a Heck of a lot easier to make assertions that must be disproved by the owner under assert forfeiture than to have to link that cash or valuables to a crime or the earnings of a criminal enterprise.

      That’s one reason for the push toward digital currency. The bigger reason is control. No cash means a digital account which the govt can monitor or seize or in inflationary times give everyone a haircut by ganking X % from the balance of every account.

I’m getting really tired of the word ‘misled’.

THEY FUCKING LIED.

They had an explicit plan to STEAL everything in the boxes, but they didn’t ask for that in the warrant because they knew they couldn’t legally justify it.

And despite the fact that the warrant spelled out that they couldn’t do it, they did it anyway, exactly as planned.

They LIED.

Telling the judge you didn’t have to disclose something that clearly led to an illegal search and seizure is a bold strategy, Cotton, let’s see how it works out for them.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that if the FBI is ordered to return these people’s property, some of it is going to come up missing. I don’t know how you seize this much property and properly store and account for it; and this sure as heck looks like they were fishing for crimes, rather than asking for a warrant based on probable cause–no judge worth his salt would have issued a warrant based on some flimsy statement that the FBI thought anyone storing property there was guilty of a crime.

You establish probable cause that a crime has been committed, and then you search and seize–not the other way around, or you’ve truly gone into Banana Republic territory

    taurus the judge in reply to rochf. | September 27, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    No, they were not fishing for crimes on this one.

    They were wanting “free money” (civil forfeiture of assets) this time.

    I’ve seen this game played.

    Pure plain and simple, “theft by taking” brought on by the US DOJ.

    And, if the lawsuit complaint is accurate- this was a premeditated act with the intent to steal.

    That’s not much of a limb to go out on. The brutal truth is that the raid was constructed by the agents involved at all levels to rob the bank. You can tell by the way their actions and their words (written and spoken) contrast. As an example:
    -They *claimed* this raid was intended to support criminal prosecution.
    -If so, they would have abided by a chain of evidence and isolated each of the box’s contents, identified by box and itemized specifically. Instead, they co-mingled boxes together, pulled out the cash, and put vague identifications on the items such as “a dozen collectable coins” Depositors who want their collections back are faced with the prospect of sifting through a box of coins in their protective cards and somehow being able to *prove* that 1916 Walking Liberty half-dollar among several others is theirs, and repeated for every item.

      CommoChief in reply to georgfelis. | September 27, 2022 at 6:32 pm

      I can halfway understand the suspicion for someone carrying large amounts of cash or valuables. It doesn’t make it right to simply seize it and force folks to prove their innocence.

      Here we have a situation where folks put their valuable items; rainy day cash on hand, expensive watches, jewelry, gold/silver coins in a damn safety deposit box inside a secure facility for …safekeeping.

      The war on cash is real y’all.

Bombshell?? Bombshell?? Let’s tone down the hyperbole a bit.

NOTHING will happen to any of the DOJ people involved.
• No one will be fired
• No one will be indicted
• No one will have his life ruined
• No one will be held responsible
• No one will be fined
• No one will pay any sort of penalty.

As dear Emily Litella used to say, “Never mind.”

    Which is why secession – or a limited breakaway from the federal government – is our only hope for a free and prosperous future.

      This is already happening as more and more conservatives wise up and leave blue states and more and more wokesters move to progressive utopias. The 10th Amendment is a huge stumbling block for the America Last tyrants. They found that out during covid and are not putting a lot of money and effort into winning state government (leg, exec, judicial). They won’t stop trying to destroy our country, and our best hope is to vote with our feet as well as at the voting booth.

        Agreed. Federalism, particularly ‘extreme’ federalism variants are the answer. Leave the blue enclave or State. That transfers money and political power away from d/prog to red States or red areas.

Subotai Bahadur | September 27, 2022 at 6:48 pm

The FBI is controlled by the Executive Branch of the United States government.

1) What in reality prevents the Executive Branch of the United States government from lying under oath? Nothing.
2) What in reality prevents the Executive Branch of the United States government from stealing the life, liberty, or property of persons [citizens or not] within the jurisdiction of the United States? Nothing.
3) What, in reality and not theory] requires agents of the Executive Branch of the United States government to obey ANY law or the Constitution? Nothing.

Subotai Bahadur

“What in reality … ?”

In normal times, Congress and the media would hold the Executive Branch to account.

In normal times.

Seems like this is yet another blatant violation of the Constitutional prohibition on “general warrants”.

Bonus: Despite giving the FBI the warrant they wanted even though they had no evidence of any crime and no specific target, the warrant issued specifically forbade the FBI from taking anything at all. They were only authorized to examine the contents of the safe deposit boxes.

So, aside from the fact that they had no right to be looking into the boxes at all, the warrant they acted on specifically prohibited them from taking anything at all. And, it seems like they took absolutely everything from every box.

We’re reaching the point where one could argue that agents of the NKVD, Stasi and KGB conducted themselves with more integrity and honesty than current agents and leadership of the Dumb-o-crat Secret Police Bureau (AKA, “FBI”).

Civil Asset Forfeiture is the poster child for “unintended consequences”, or rather “intended but unadmitted consequences.”

The intention was never to strangle the cartels. It was always to strangle free autonomous transactions among citizens, vacuum up more money, incent the enforcers, fund more “enforcement”, generate pretext for selective enforcement, and create social stigma.

“Everything not compulsory is forbidden.” is the goal. The game is to find a way to step on people doing things neither compulsory nor forbidden.

Change my mind.