Tag: administrative petition

A September 7 2018 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Detroit Metropolital airport.

Detroit Airport Cash Forfeiture Notices: September 7 2018

Last Friday, Customs published a notice last Friday, September 7, 2018, for cash that was seized at Detroit airport only 3 days earlier, on September 4. We, at Great Lakes Customs Law, monitor these notices on a weekly basis because, inevitably, we need them to help our clients who have been forced to abandon cash.

This notice seems highly unusual, as it usually takes several days for information to get from the CBP officers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the administrative and enforcement wing of CBP — Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures (FP&F) office — at the McNamara Federal Building. Even after it is delivered to FP&F, I strongly suspect that it takes a few days to overcome bureacratic inertia and get it over to the people at forfeiture.gov (which, I believe, is run by the DOJ).

Here’s the text of the relevant notice:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: September 07, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: October 07, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: November 06, 2018

DETROIT

2018380700135201-0001-0000, Seized on 09/04/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 527; PC; Valued at $48,777.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(B)

It is very curious to me that this seizure and the publication of the intent to forfeit was “fast-tracked” in a matter of only 3 days between seizure and publication.

Is Detroit CBP forfeiting your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized and is forfeiting your cash, you have rights to get your cash back. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.
A copy of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit featuring the case of the incomplete check seized by CBP

Detroit CBP Forfeits Seized Cash by Notices

There have not been many news releases by CBP about cash seizures, but just because it’s not hitting the news doesn’t mean anything has changed. For example, CBP in Detroit is still seizing cash at Detroit Metro Airport (and of course, to a lesser extent, the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel). To get a glimpse of their activity, we can look to the notices of seizure and intent to forfeit postings that the government is required to make on the foreiture.gov website.

Once CBP takes money, there are several ways to try to get it back. Most of these are shown on the election of proceedings form. If they can’t successfully get the money back, or they choose to file a claim, the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit is published.

From mid-December until now, here are all the cases where money was seized and the notice has been published, along with my comments on each case:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: January 12, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: February 11, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: March 13, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2018380700037501-001-0000, Seized on 01/05/2018; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 323; EA; Valued at $31,261.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317

Above, the cash was seized at Detroit Metro on 1/5, and the posting was made on January 12. Typically, CBP sends out a notice of seizure letter to those with a known interest in the money and then, if not responded to within 35 days, the notice gets published online. So this short period of time between seizure and publication only makes sense to me if the person who had their money seized abandoned the cash or, immediately they filed a claim.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: January 05, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: February 04, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: March 06, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2017380700124801-001-0000, Seized on 05/26/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 263; EA; Valued at $26,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Above is a more expected situation, where the money was seized in May 2017 (for failure to report and for structuring), but the first publication of the intent to forfeit was not until January. This tells me that it is very likely that the administrative resolution was unsuccessful (e.g., they filed an administrative petition and it was unsuccessful). That usually means a bad lawyer, no lawyer, or insufficient documentation showing legitimate source and use of the seized cash. Some people give up at this point, which is usually a poor decision. You’ve got to keep trying and file a claim, but you’ll meet with the same fate unless you get an experienced attorney.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: December 29, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: January 28, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 27, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2017380700064601-001-0000, Seized on 01/25/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 250; EA; Valued at $25,000.00; For violation of 19USC1607, 19USC162.45, 19USC983(A)(2)

The also looks like the administrative options failed. But this one puzzles me another reason, because the reasons listed for seizure don’t appear to be right. All of the law or regulations cited there are for the summary forfeiture statute, which only describes the process used for forfeiting property that is valued at less than $500,000. In other words, those laws do not describe a crime but instead just direct the government to publish notice in a certain way. It looks like someone at CBP sent the wrong information in for publishing.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: December 15, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: January 14, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 13, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2018380100011101-001-0000, Seized on 11/09/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY; 878; EA; Valued at $20,106.00; For violation of 18USC981(A)(1)(C), 18USC1956(C)(7)(A), 18USC1961(1)(D),21USC841,21USC881,, 21USC846

2018380700026301-001-0000, Seized on 12/01/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 520; EA; Valued at $48,293.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5332

Finally, the first of the two listed here was seized not for a failure to report the cash, but instead because the money was suspected to be involved in some illegal activity. The case number tells me that this occurred at one of the land border crossings in Detroit, where such a situation is more likely to occur than at the Detroit Metro Airport.

The final case shows the money was seized on December 1, and the notice was published on December 15. That tells me that the person, rather than electing administrative proceedings, chose to file a claim and set their case up for decision by a judge. Typically, that’s a bad idea; it’s usually better to give administrative remedies a chance first, but not always. It could be someone made this decision without a lawyer, or hired a lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Is Detroit CBP forfeiting your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized and is forfeiting your cash, you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.
Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

Detroit CBP Cash Seizure: Last Call!

On July 8, CBP Detroit issued a notice of intent to forfeit $15,554 that was seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on May 9, 2016, for a violations of the unlawful structuring and the border cash reporting requirements. The notice of seizure and intent to forfeit publications on forfeiture.gov or the legal equivalent of the bartender yelling “Last call!” at a bar and turning on the lights.

As with a similar story we posted days ago, because this notice is being published likely means that someone chose to abandon cash seized by CBP, or that they never a notice of seizure by mail. Because someone missed the deadline, the notice, or abandoned the property, CBP has thus begun administrative forfeiture proceedings.

Here’s the notice:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: July 08, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: August 07, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: September 06, 2016

2016380700077501-001-0000, Seized on 05/09/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED;  200; EA; Valued at $15,554.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

Anyone with a legal interest in the property can submit a claim, with some limitations. Completing a claim and properly submitting it to CBP is the last chance for anyone with an interest in the property to try to get it back.

After money has been seized by CBP, it is best to consult with and proceed with the advice of a law firm that specializes in customs laws and cash seizures; there are number of mistakes that can be made in electing to proceed with making an offer in compromise, filing a claim, an administrative petitioner, or otherwise responding.

If you want to learn more about responding to a customs cash seizure, read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

A CBP notice of seizure letter contains bad legal advice from CBP; 30 days from date of mailing, not date of the letter.

Don’t Take Legal Advice From CBP

In our piece of responding to a customs money seizure and a petition for return of seized cash, we warn anyone who has had cash seized by Customs against trusting customs that, in a few simple steps, they will get their money back. Do not trust the purported requirements in the notice of seizure like explaining why you “broke the law” (admitting a crime = bad idea) or “unquestionably proving” the source and use of the money, or that bank statements and tax returns are always necessary. Do not take legal advice from CBP.  You need legal advice from a customs lawyer.

Recently, I read a court opinion by a (wise) judge who complained about bad legal advice from CBP. In all the 50 states, only lawyers can give legal advice. If a lawyer happens to work for CBP, they could not give advice to someone who has had cash or property seized because they would have a conflict of interest and could not be expected to give candid advice. This judge, in United States v. Martin, 460 F. Supp. 2d 669, 674 (D. Md. 2006), said:

It is . . . unfortunate that, though sent by non-lawyers to people who could not in any case be their legal clients, [CBP] purport[s] to give legal advice [by stating in the notice of seizure letter “Your legal options are as follows.”[]].

It is illegal to practice law without a license. So when someone at CBP tells you what to do to protect your legal rights, it’s probably illegal. That’s why I bristle when I read CBP’s notice of seizure because it is often inaccurate and contradictory. Worse still are decision letters that ignore or mis-state the petitioner’s right to file a supplemental petition. This puts anyone in jeopardy when trying to respond to the complex and contradictory instructions in a notice of seizure.

Another of those bad pieces of legal advice from CBP is that, if you choose to file an administrative petition under 19 CFR 171.2, it must be filed within 30 days of the date of the notice of seizure letter. This is potentially misleading. In fact, 171.2(b)(1) says “Petitions for relief from seizures must be filed within 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice of seizure.

In saying this, the notice of seizure letter presumes that the date on the letter is the date it is being mailed. That is sometimes true. It is also sometimes not true. Certainly, there is probably a rebuttable presumption that the date on the letter is the same date as the date of mailing. Atteberry v. United States, 27 CIT 751; 267 F Supp 2d 1364 (2003). But, the post mark on the letter might bear evidence that the date of mailing is other than on the date of the letter.

The best practice is not to fight about it, and submit a petition within 30 days of the date of the letter or obtain an extension. But if 30 days has already passed and CBP is telling you they will not accept the petition, you should hope you saved the mailing envelope and it is post-marked after the date of the notice of seizure letter.  And that CBP will act reasonably when presented with that information.

I once received a letter from CBP that provided 30 days to respond. It was dated April 6, ‘post-marked’ on April 15 (from a private meter), and received on April 29. 14 days is a long time for a piece of first class mail to be delivered, and so I suspect from April 15 to April 26 it was sitting on someone’s desk, until that person finally put it in the mailbox for pickup.

Did you take bad legal advice from CBP?

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