An Example of ATF Confiscation and Forfeiture

TTAG reader and lawyer Eric left the following comment underneath our post AG Holder Gives ATF Power to Confiscate Property

I’m an attorney and I represent an FFL dealer/SOT manufacturer. Last fall, about $110k worth of his property was stolen. This included NFA items, 20,000 rounds of ammunition, non-NFA firearms, and other “stuff.” He cooperated with local law enforcement, the ATF, prosecutors, insurance company, etc. Not only did this property constitute his inventory, but many of the items generated monthly revenue for his business. A significant amount of revenue. This was the end of his business . . .

They nabbed the perps two days later. That’s when the issues began. They recovered his property. Or some of it. (The other stuff was probably walked south of the border.) But, the ATF would not inform us what they recovered, nor would they speak with the insurance company — who took the position that the items were not “lost” because the ATF had possession. (Of what? we didn’t know.)

Then, months later, we received notice that the ATF had instituted a seizure and forfeiture action against the recovered items. Yes, you read that right. My client, the f’ing victim of the crime, was having HIS recovered stolen property seized and administratively forfeited. Now, there is a process. Within 15 days of the date of the notice (side note: “Date of the Notice” – not received. We got it with 3 days to spare, but at the start of a holiday weekend) a person claiming an ownership interest in the seized property may make a claim for return of the property, must prove ownership…and

Submit a $10k CASH bond to the ATF. “Cash bond.” My client was asked to send the ATF $10,000 dollars to get his stuff back.

Chew on that.

Outcome? Pursuant to Federal Regulations, the ATF has until tomorrow to respond.

comments

  1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Yes that’s horrible. It was horrible yesterday. Molan Labe.

    1. avatar JWM says:

      Apparently they did come and get them. Don’t you just hate when that happens.

      1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

        The ATF didn’t steal them. Just holding them for ransom(or a bribe)…

        1. avatar sagebrushracer says:

          “I may be a sinner who does not expect forgiveness, but at least I am not a government official.” – Wolcott from the TV show Deadwood (context: he killed 3 women in cold blood, commenting on the county commissioner)

      2. avatar Taco says:

        Why should the ATF come and steal it…they enabled the illegals to come and steal it for them…they then get the illegals…and then steal it from them…seems more official in their view of things. Stealing is stealing.

    2. avatar borg says:

      Possession of stolen property is illegal. The local police should charge the agents holding the stolen items with possession of stolen property and any other charges that will stick until the property is returned or restitution is paid.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        That will almost never happen.

        See, cops cover up for other cops. As soon as a thug or grifter is a member of the badge-n-donut club, they can get away with murder right in front of other agencies, and they’ll be able to depend on the testimony and deliberate non-recollection of said other agencies.

        1. avatar JimmyDelta says:

          It is rare, but sometimes we find a good Sheriff who respects the law and speaks up for those he’s elected to protect.

        2. avatar mirgc says:

          Still, he should at least attempt to file a stolen property report and get it in the system. Create a paper trail that he is not going to just let his property be forfeited because the ATF/government wants it.

  2. avatar Alexander says:

    I wonder what kind of brainwashing does our criminal government use on its employees to enable them to also become criminals and abet the criminal government in its criminal acts?

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      The public school system.

      1. avatar Delmarva Chip says:

        Indeed.

        It’s a lot easier to prep people to accept government as a big, powerful force of good when you have control of their education for 12 years as a kid and can teach ’em what you want.

    2. avatar Byte Stryke says:

      Its Policy, you follow policy or we make you unemployed for cause and you lose you home, wife and happy little life.

      1. avatar geoffb says:

        I’m getting a lot of use out of this quote lately.

        “Liberalism is hostile to law.” That is, liberalism promotes “policy without law” by having Congress delegate real governance, and vast discretion, to administrative agencies that go on to regulate with “a vigor that is matched only by its unpredictability.” The consent of the governed, expressed through elections that let the people turn unsatisfactory officials out of office, is trivialized.

        http://www.nationalreview.com/article/243543/why-liberalism-dangerous-william-voegeli

        1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

          Modern Liberalism is Marxist Leninism.

      2. avatar B says:

        The vast majority of the government that actually makes and implements policy isn’t elected. A giant un-elected law writing bureaucracy that rules us without any accountability. The Fed, the BLM, the EPA, the ATF, the FBI, the IRS, all people that can utterly destroy us with a memo saying we are now felons. We can’t vote them out. We can vote for our 3 federal elected officials (1 rep, 2 senators) and hope they all can get the rest of the party (along with around 1/2 of the opposing party and whoever the president is) to agree these people all need to go.

        Its freaking terrifying what we are actually fighting. The UK actually has a better chance of getting their gun rights back than any one in the IRS or ATF doing jail time.

    3. avatar Grindstone says:

      Job security.

      1. avatar Alexander says:

        And what right then did we have to judge the Nazis?

        1. avatar nate says:

          They took it too far.

        2. avatar alexander says:

          Actually, they did it smartly. All was meticulously legal. Every department did just one little step. One rounded up the people, another moved them into a holding area, another transported them, and yet another exterminated whatever was left of the people, for by the time they got to that stage, they were no longer people – just vile bodies that needed to be exterminated. Kind of the path we’re on – start by calling the undesirables extremists, then criminals, marginalize them and the last step won’t be so big, after all. This formula has been proven many times – it works.

        3. avatar BigDinVT says:

          @nate, what makes you think the gov’ment we have in place now won’t? We’ve gotten FAR away from what our forefathers intended when they drafted the constitution. The prolification of govenment agencies are like STD’s; once you’ve got them it’s impossible to get rid of them no matter how much you want to…and our elected officials don’t want to. The IRS, EPA, ATF (BATFE – see how they’ve grown), DHS, etc. all need to go away or be seriously reduced in both size and reach.

        4. avatar JohnF says:

          Sadly, we didn’t have one. The then Chief Justice of SCOTUS said that is was fortunate that the Nuremberg verdicts could not be appealed to SCOTUS, because they all would have had to be overturned. The maddening thing was that the Nazi government followed German laws (they made them, of course) and had broken none of them within their own borders. There was no international legal authority at the time. They possibly could have been prosecuted under the legal systems of the countries they invaded for stuff that happened in those countries, but it would have taken years.

          I had the privilege of knowing Whitney Harris, who was an attorney, a Navy JAG LT, an OSS agent assigned to do pre-trial investigation and one of the prosecutors at Nuremberg. He wrote a book about it, “Tyranny on Trial.” He agreed that those trials had no basis in law. They had to make it up as they went along. But it had to be done and it had to be done with as much good legal practice that could be mustered

        5. avatar Indiana Tom says:

          According to Patton; the Nazi Things were sort of like the Democrat and Republican Things.

      2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        Grindstone is more correct than most people realize. Here’s the thing about government employees (I am one). Most of their jobs involve skills that have little value in the private sector. If they lose their job, they run out of options in a hurry. There is no grip so tight as that of a government employee desperately trying to hang onto his job.

        The at-will employees of our governments will do whatever is necessary to not anger their superiors.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          All summed up in the classic line from Ghostbusters:

          “You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*.”

        2. avatar John says:

          i was a civil service employee ,, i never saw such blatant waste of revenue and man hours ,it was really like another planet ,, the ave hours worked in an 8 hour day ,,,?? 3.5 hours , these people took 1.5 hour lunches ,, i was going bonkers ,the afternoons seemed like a whole shift ,, i finally asked my boss ,,”what do you need me to do “?,,,he said “go hide ,from the everwatching public eye”??? ,,, the coworkers were like children ,ive seen more mature people in jr high schools ,, i was told” what is the public going to do ,if they dont pay ,we condemn their property and steal it at auction ,and resell it for a profit” ,,,my aunt worked back in DC ,she told me whole floors of workers would go somewhere ,she finally asked wheres everyone at ,,her coworker said “oh silly you ,we all take off and go shopping and sit at coffee shops and kill a shift “,,, “get on the team”,,,,,,”were federal employees , what are they going to do fire us ?”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,until this is fixed this country will never have a deficit reduction ,and its not in the govs best interest to have one ,because then they cant cry and claim they need more revenue in blah blah dept ,,,,,,

        3. avatar Accur81 says:

          @John

          Why didn’t you use your free time to learn grammar?

    4. avatar FoRealz? says:

      Brainwashing? None required. Oh no my good man, cash is king!

      Salary, benefits and pension is all that is necessary to offer a man in order that he would gleefully put his boot on another’s neck, shoot his dog and toss flash bangs in an infant’s crib.

      Throw in an air of legitimacy via bureaucratic inertia, ‘Merica! Flavored faux patriotism, and a job candidate of average intelligence with a public school education and you have your mustachioed hero ready to protect and serve the living shit out of his fellow countrymen.

      Wheee!

      1. avatar alexander says:

        “Flavored faux patriotism, and a job candidate of average intelligence with a public school education and you have your mustachioed hero ready to protect and serve the living shit out of his fellow countrymen.” — that, my friend is the shortest summation for the need of the Second Amendment!

  3. avatar Tufty says:

    Surely the minions carrying out this govt-endored theft know at their core that it goes against everything the United States stands for?

    After WWII wasn’t “acting on orders” dismissed as a valid defense? Things are getting very scary out there.

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    They will probably charge him with illegally transferring to the crooks next.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Shhhh, don’t give them any more ideas.

  5. avatar James69 says:

    Just like Mexico!

  6. avatar Alex waits says:

    I would be interested in updates.

    1. avatar the ruester says:

      +1 Lot’s of these don’t get updates and they should.

  7. avatar SpecialK says:

    All from an agency the mere existence of which is unconstitutional. I hope the House de-funds these thugs.

    1. avatar Alexander says:

      Like most criminals, they seem to be self-funded…

  8. avatar Farmer Tyler says:

    Holy sh*t.

    Also make you wonder the details of the theft. Where it was, who it was, how did they know it was there, how they got it etc

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      It makes me wonder. I don’t know much about how the federales do their business generally (as opposed to the ‘dog bites man’ stories we’ll see here) but I suspect there’s some kind of context here. For example… are the items being held as evidence against the criminals, in which case a chain of custody may be necessary for conviction? A ‘civil forfeiture’ implies that the owner is suspected of a crime.

      1. avatar Desert Ranger says:

        Maybe the atf is afraid of self incrimination. If the stolen items did go south of the border did they get there with the help of the Feds? There needs to be complete transparency in govt… No secrets paid for on our dime or at the expense of our rights.

  9. avatar Dustin says:

    You deserve what you tolerate.

  10. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    Good Lord. I wish I could say I am surprised. And yet, when you explain this sort of thing to “non-believers” they say that you’re making it up. The Government would NEVER do that!

    Please – keep TTAG updated.

  11. avatar Wyo_cowboy says:

    ATF agents are blind sheep. Today I talked to one of the agents involved in the disposal of seized guns used in crimes about the proposal to outlaw the manufacture of xm855. He said he didn’t see the point in the regulation, but that it didn’t affect his job because it involved a different division. I consider everyone in the bureau as a potential enemy, and I watch what I say very carefully around them.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      I suspect they watch what they say around you as well. You don’t expect to have him say “yeah, that’s stupid as hell” do you?

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        I’m a cop in CA, and that’s exactly what I would have said. That’s what I currently say about 10 round mag limits, bullet buttons, 10 day waiting periods, may issue, etc.

  12. avatar Jake Tallman says:

    Shit like this is why I don’t trust law enforcement in general (yes, I’m well aware that the ATF are a special kind of jack booted thug, but they are still law enforcement). I have personally witnessed (and read about) too many cases where the victim of a crime then becomes a victim of legal crime (whether it’s the case of a cop having a bad day, a lack of accountability, awful laws, or something else entirely).

  13. avatar Smoke Jensen says:

    Anybody smell Operation Gun Walker 2.0 with this guys property?

  14. avatar Marco says:

    And? That was posted yesterday, saying the ATF has until tomorrow (that means today) to respond.

    What did they say??? I’m on the edge of my seat!

    1. avatar Chadwick P. says:

      They have shown that they don’t need to answer to anyone… Dear leader and his boyfriend(general holder) don’t care because-GUNS

  15. avatar David B. says:

    I don’t know if this is helpful, but attorney’s fees for forfiture actions can be recovered. See http://armsandthelaw.com/archives/2015/02/recovering_atto.php (28 USC 2465(b))

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      The attorney’s fees are the least of his problems.

      They have his inventory, 110,000 thousand dollar’s worth.

      If he used his own credit to buy his inventory (and that is very common with small businesses), he now gets to service that debt with zero income.

      Not to mention the cost of his lease, etc.

      He is in for a world of hurt.

      1. avatar borg says:

        If he files bankruptcy he can let his lawyer tell the lawyers of the creditors and the judge that the ATF is in possession of the stolen property and are refusing to return it that way the creditors and/or the bankruptcy judge can go after the ATF and demand the property or the full retail value of the property.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          And how is he going to pay his lawyer?

          His income is *gone*, his personal credit is now destroyed.

          What part of his catastrophe are you unable to understand?

          Over the years I have worked for several small businesses that were bankrupted through no fault of theirs. You have no clue the damage it causes to their families.

        2. avatar neiowa says:

          Your naivete would be so cute if were not so pathetic.

        3. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “Your naivete would be so cute if were not so pathetic.”

          And your personal experience first-hand with businesses shut down *cold*, homes foreclosed on, cars re-possesed, etc, etc, etc,… Is?

          I saw exactly that in the ’80’s to two separate families.

          neiowa, *YOUR* naivete would be so cute if it were not so pathetic.

          Reality is obviously far harder and colder than you have experienced.

          Live in your little dream world, it must be nice in there.

  16. avatar John in Ohio says:

    Tyranny.

    Lurking for updates and reading new comments…

  17. avatar Ed Burton says:

    Outrageous, I’m sure the original thieves were actually ATF officers.

    “We’re from the government and we’re here to help. It would be a shame if anything happened to your business mister, but if you were to pay, say, a small fee, we could make sure nothing unfortunate happens to your business…”

    Racketeering laws should be enforced against the government, because they have a monopoly on everything now.

  18. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Sad to say, the federal government along with state and local governments have been doing a lot of this sort of thing lately. Fortunately the one area where Americans are gaining freedom is in firearms use and ownership. Which is fortunate because the way things are going we’re bound to end up needing those firearms to round up the bureaucrats and ship them of to Syria to join the Islamic State where they can finally be happy doing their jobs as they see fit.

  19. avatar Excedrine says:

    It is long past the time that the BATFE&RBF be abolished and their personnel and responsibilities not rolled over into another agency.

    1. avatar Justsomeguy says:

      That would likely be the FBI and I really don’t think we want that.

  20. avatar Anonymous says:

    I’d like more information on this. More attention needs to be brought to the table. Why hasn’t this lawyer gone public with this story. If these allegations are true (which wouldn’t surprise me if they were) the NRA should be showing this on their front page.

  21. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    The current administration has fomented a general aura of distrust by all government employees of anybody who works in the private sector, and this type of incident is a direct result. This distrust was harder to detect in years past and it still varies person to person, but the electricity is definitely in the air now more than ever. The only exception I can think of is a decent chunk of our armed forces below a certain rank. However, if we don’t see a massive cultural shift in our lifetimes, then our military will slowly become a place for the last of the remotely patriotic citizens to quietly wander amongst themselves on the sidelines; comfortably distant from the screeching socialist loonies. Just look at the UK, ’cause that’s exactly what happened to their own.

    I recall a story someone shared here two or three years ago about their most recent talk with an IRS agent over the phone. I forget all the details, but this agent apparently became so fed up with our storyteller’s dispute that she said something to the effect of, “Well you should be thankful that we don’t just take all the money you have.” Folks, if that attitude isn’t ripped straight from the Soviet Commissar’s playbook then I don’t know what the hell is. Sure enough a year or so later we heard about the IRS scandal, and I was completely unsurprised.

    The reason an agency like the ATF can swing its d!ck around totally unchallenged is because government employees are no longer treated like the second class citizens they used to be seen as by the general public. Government itself is no longer being treated as the big, dumb gorilla sulking in the corner where it belongs and keeping its grubby paws as far away from the citizen’s civil liberties, and daily life as possible. There has been a carefully molded ideological shift over the past fifty years towards seeing total subservience to the will of the collective as the answer to all of life’s problems. If this doesn’t change ASAP, things are only going to get exponentially worse.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      +1

      The sheep are forged in the public schools, colleges & universities, and by the media. They reinforce each other in the factories and in the welfare lines. Statism is the rot. Major changes soon or we’re screwed.

  22. avatar Dan says:

    There is nothing this world that can’t be made worse by the addition of government. This is a sterling example
    of this phenomenon.

    1. avatar Avid Reader says:

      Wait until the FCC gets its hands on the internet.

  23. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    Same type of thing happened to a close friend of my father.

    His guns were stolen and then held for ransom. He was allowed to purchase his hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of guns back for smaller sum than they were worth.

    Only with the friend, it was called extortion because a biker gang did it, but with the ATF it’s a “bond.”

    I wonder, who got the idea for this scam first, criminals or gov’ts…

  24. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I don’t know any details of this case other than paragraph of this article, but …

    Would this be a good case for lawsuit based simply on the Second Amendment itself? Could this be the crack in the damn that could lead to the end of the “firearms” branch of the ATF?

    We all, even FFLs, have a right to keep and bear arms. That means that we can both purchase and sell arms. As far as I can tell, the ATF swept in and denied this FFL his right to keep and bear arms.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Government claims it is regulating interstate commerce and not infringing. The FFL would be used to strengthen the argument.

  25. avatar Justin_GA says:

    Things I’ve learned in the past couple of months. DO NOT put your money in a bank account that the US can freeze or seize under civil forfeiture! Also hide you guns, money, ammo, gold, silver, anything with value because the government will seize it and you will not get it back. Lastly why do I feel like I have to act like a criminal to keep my legal belongings.

  26. avatar Rimfire says:

    I’d have to agree with previous posters that this was an ATF rob job to begin with, now they are double dipping from each end. I just can’t trust them, and I say this as a former dealer. too much shady s$it happens on their watch. Please keep everyone updated. NRA, get off your high horse immediately and get busy on this!! life member begs you to be active with this NOW.

    And finally I sure as hell don’t need some voiced in communication running as I type. These ads are becoming real detrimental to this site. I mean that!!

  27. avatar Rimfire says:

    So my post simply vanishes??? I guess not worthy??

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      Relax, you are worthy. Sometimes the spam filter catches everyone’s comments once in a while.

  28. avatar Skyler says:

    This is what the second amendment and militias are for. We are approaching the day when this will become imperative.

  29. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Words fail me.

  30. avatar Gatha58 says:

    Excellent chance for the NRA to jump on board and show what they are made of. This case could bring them in a LOT of new members if handled properly and publicized.

  31. avatar Taco says:

    The ATF basically robbed this guy…they stole his property without any cause or reason. Our ancestors were dumping Tea into Boston Harbor by now…and here we sit just thinking…”well it’s the gov’t…that’s how it is…” My guess is the ATF likely pocketed a lot of this. They are criminals…they are not government agents…they are CRIMINALS and deserved to be treated as such. Government by the people for the people…this is not what is happening…it’s become Government for themselves by themselves…

    Little by little they push us deeper into the dark hole…and a generation will soon come that doesn’t even remember what the light of freedom looks like…

    1. avatar Fug says:

      Actually they threw the tea in the harbor because they were a bunch of smugglers and the new tea undermined profits they hoped to make on tea which had already been smuggled into the colonies. Basically the King of England responded to the complaints of the people over taxation and our “forefathers” responded with a false flag event where they dressed up as Indians to keep on racketeering and exploiting their fellow colonists.

      The USA has been run by an elite group of sly criminals from the very start. They will take anything they can from you that is not nailed down and the only defense is to pass yourself off as impoverished, oppressed, disabled or some combination of those things. This is because they have reasoned over time that such groups are not worth messing with due to the negative backlash from society.

  32. avatar Mack Bolan says:

    Lexington and Concord 2.0 will be brought to you by the ATF.

  33. avatar HEGEMON says:

    The ATF exists solely to trample on peoples Constitutional rights.

  34. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    No full names of client or lawyer. No names of agents. No mention of even what the ATF posited as a pretext for the seizure. Whole thing sounds made up, or severely selectively reported.

    know, I know, they’re not supposed to comment on a current case. So why comment at all? And why now with only one day before a potentially major development? Why not publish a more complete up to date account?

    I’ll have to wait like everyone else to see how this plays out, because I don’t know what’s real or not, but this sounds like sensationalism, if not outright fiction.

    1. avatar Yadama says:

      Yes, without any proof to validate this claim, there was no reason to post this until an outcome or proof & information were available. Just like every other ‘news’ outlet that started with good intention, TTAG has realize more money flow when you report on things that rile up your viewership. Hoe many more years before TTAG is no better than Alex Jones or Rush? I hope TTAG starts to notice the path it diverted from and try to merge back onto it.

  35. avatar David Stadler says:

    This inept US Agency should have been disbanded after their fiasco at Waco!

  36. avatar Rimfire says:

    David, great point, but nobody had the balls to take down the mess that is the ATF and noisemakers too. This group of thugs would rather shoot first and lie about asking questions. I have so much disgust for this gummit group that constantly abuses their power. Janet Butch Reno and the group that couldn’t shoot straight have cost us enough with their high handed tactics. Bet you are wondering how I really feel, huh? I may be naïve but WE the people are the power, or should be but somebody took a wrong turn in history. Big Government = Big crooks

  37. avatar Eric says:

    TTAG Readers. I assure you that the account above is true and accurate – and not fiction. Are details missing? Sure. I left a brief comment on a blog post. I’m not writing a dissertation for you all on my client’s fact pattern. I apologize if the brevity of it caused you to question the veracity of the underlying situation.

    Notwithstanding, my client was (is?) the victim of the crime. The people responsible were caught. MethHead #2 flipped on MethHead #1. Number 1 is currently sitting in a jail cell, in the custody of U.S. Marshalls, following a federal indictment. It’s been six months, my client still does not have the property the ATF recovered. We have not received a response regarding the seizure and asset forfeiture action. (The deadline was late in the week – assuming the weekend may have caused a delay.)

    Will I answer any of your questions here? Not really. I sent a personal e-mail to RF, inviting him to call me if more details would be interesting.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Thank you for the details that you were able to share. I think cases such as your client’s are important for people to read about. Hopefully, you will be willing and able to share important updates as situation unfolds and hopefully resolves in a positive way for your client.

  38. avatar Elvis says:

    Gonna have to make them bleed just like any other thug/thief.

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