Congressman Collins Pushes Back on Civil Forfeiture

Civil forfeiture has been a growing problem across agencies on the state and federal levels. The largest issue being the placement of burden onto the citizen to prove innocence to regain their assets instead of on the state having cause has gone largely unrestrained.

Congressman Doug Collins, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, detailed the near-demise of Andrew Clyde of Clyde’s Armory, a Georgian from the 9th district, in his latest constituent newsletter.

Fearing it could be their last chance, customers flocked to his store to purchase arms. Suddenly, Andrew was in possession of a lot of cash. His insurance policy meant he would have to deposit it in amounts drawing Interval Revenue Service scrutiny. More than scrutiny, as a matter of fact. The IRS seized Andrew’s bank accounts, almost destroying his business and the 25 jobs he provides. But the Justice Department never charged him with a crime. He hadn’t committed one — just fallen afoul of a law that Congress intended to prevent money laundering.

Collins also said,

The IRS seized his property without probable cause. The Justice Department never charged him with a crime, while prosecutors threatened his reputation. More small business owners have told the House the same thing.

Congressman Collins largely blames the Obama administration for the problems of Andrew Clyde  -and he is correct – but the trampling of our rights through civil forfeiture crosses party lines. Often. From drug crime accusations to human trafficking, civil forfeiture practices are blind to partisanship at the expense of The People. Real reform and protections will only be implemented when we stop placing blame and actually address how our government is crippling citizens and businesses.

On the state level, legislators have attempted to reform civil forfeiture practices, many of which have been difficult and unsuccessful. And then, of course, we have the legislators trying to expand the scope of civil forfeiture.

25 comments

  1. Noway says:

    Forfeiture might have been deemed constitutional by the Supremes but it is horrid law. Goes against EVERYTHING we stand for. Repeal/re-write it and make it illegal. “But police dept depend on it for their operating funds!” Tough sh*t! Learn to do with less. If a person is not convicted, they don’t give up a freaking dime!

  2. Will Durant says:

    Georgia’s LEAs won’t even let us tighten up the most lax reporting requirements in the nation. We have no idea how much property is considered guilty until proven innocent in the state due to lackadaisical to non-existent reporting.

  3. Ed says:

    If Cong. Collins actually cared about civil forfeiture more than blaming Obama he would have done something about Georgia’s insidious and awful laws, which were augmented during his tenure in the legislature. However, being a rank partisan, we know what he truly values: playing to Obama Derangement Syndrome.

  4. DavidTC says:

    Depositing large amounts of cash at once (Which he did) does indeed trigger IRS scrutiny, and the article seems to be making the claim that ‘If his insurance had allowed it, he would have deposited it in smaller amounts to avoid scrutiny’. Uh, that would have been *very* stupid.

    While a large deposit is just subject to IRS scrutiny, making several smaller deposits to deliberately avoid bank reporting requirements is actually *illegal*, by itself, full stop. Now, I’m not exactly sure of how the law is phrased, and it’s possible that what he was planning wasn’t illegal, but basically all ways to get large amounts of cash into a bank the IRS finds it hard to notice (like putting it in different accounts and moving it in the same account) are illegal, and the rest of the stuff…the IRS would detect anyway, and it would now look even *more* suspicious, and it would be possibly also illegal by itself.

    Do not even consider trying to evade reporting requirements, and I know that sounds insane because *not* evading them can result in the government stealing your money, but the problem there the fact the government can steal your money…trying to evade reporting requirements just makes it easier for them to take it when they do notice it.

    • blakeage80 says:

      David, your reading is a bit askew. Your observations of the IRS rules are correct, but Mr. Clyde deposited amounts under 10K because that’s how much his insurance policy covered. He never shirked any reporting requirements. He never did anything deliberately to ‘structure’ his deposits. The IRS rule is written in such a way as to give them all the latitude in the world to investigate whoever they want. What they did was nothing more than bullying of a legitimate business.

  5. Max Power says:

    I’m no fan of civil forfeiture but I think Doug could have picked a better poster boy for the cause. Who in this day in age doesn’t know that making repeated deposits just under $10K is going to cause trouble with the IRS? There’s ignorance of the law and then there’s willful ignorance.

    • DavidTC says:

      Oh, so he actually *did* structure the deposits to not trigger bank reporting requirements?

      If so, that was…really stupid.

      • Max Power says:

        His claim is that his insurance policy required such structuring.
        Clyde, who owns the Clyde Armory gun shop in Athens, Ga., admitted to making more than 100 just-under-$10,000 bank transactions over 10 months — but said he did so because of the insurance policy.

  6. xdog says:

    Clyde Armory is in Athens. Here’s a link to an ABH article from three days ago: http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2015-02-12/athens-gun-shop-owner-testifies-congress-asset-seizure

    A couple of details first. The law requiring reports of deposits over $10K dates from 1982. The law against structured deposits to avoid the 82 law dates from 1986. Hard to see how Obama worked that out.

    Andrew Clyde has been around a few years and he has a nice shop with lots of choices. I don’t know his business but $950K seems a lot of money to keep in a small business account. Put another way, that’s 100 or so sub-$10K trips to the bank.

    The above is in no way supportive of the IRS or anyone else seizing money or property without due process.

    • blakeage80 says:

      Xdog, after the Newtown shooting, they did about a years worth of business inside of 3 months. That’s why there was so much cash on hand. He couldn’t spend it all because manufacturers couldn’t get product to replenish what was sold.

      • xdog says:

        Yeah, I read that in the article I cited. I thought gun buyers routinely used checks and credit cards but I may be wrong.

        • blakeage80 says:

          You’d be surprised at how many customers use cash. There are a lot of paranoid (maybe for good reason) people in them thar hills.

  7. Rick Day says:

    I blame Dick:

    RICO was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91–452, 84 Stat. 922, enacted October 15, 1970). RICO is codified as Chapter 96 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. § 1961–1968. G. Robert Blakey, an adviser to the United States Senate Government Operations Committee, drafted the law under the close supervision of the committee’s chairman, Senator John Little McClellan. It was enacted as Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, and signed into law by Richard M. Nixon. While its original use in the 1970s was to prosecute the Mafia as well as others who were actively engaged in organized crime, its later application has been more widespread.

    Beginning in 1972, 33 States adopted state RICO laws to be able to prosecute similar conduct.

    Who was blaming Obama again, for this?

    • blakeage80 says:

      I think you just wanted to say Richard’s nickname. However, your point is correct. The problems at the IRS or any other federal agency are almost entirely institutional. It would take a generation to straighten out the idiocy and corruption.

    • Noway says:

      Never thought I’d agree with Rick on much, but I do on this. This is NOT O’Bama’s fault. Like has been pointed out, this law is several decades old. It needs to be ripped out and tossed. The War on Drugs is a failure by any measure. Taking chunks out of personal freedom. It’s nobody’s business how a person makes deposits, checks or not. Cash deposits or payments have been made to be suspicious. Isn’t there something printed on bills that says “legal for all debts, public or private.”

  8. benevolus says:

    I think this is probably more about the guns than the money. They want to know who bought all those guns with cash.

  9. saltycracker says:

    Interesting read and wonder if we got the whole picture. The deposits would draw suspicion but being the supposed product of gun sales you’d think there is a pretty clear paper trail of compliance with regs easy to quickly check before seizure. Feds seemed to have a premature quick trigger finger or ? What are we missing ?

    • blakeage80 says:

      Nothing. The story is as Clyde tells it. I am sure the feds were extra sensitive to the gun part, but weren’t a dairy farmer and baker were also mentioned as having testified? Interestingly enough, Clyde Armory was also a victim a few years ago of Operation Choke Point.

  10. Doug Deal says:

    Everyone loves to say how much they believe in freedom or support the constitution, until it gets in the way of something they want, then it might as well not exist.

    You cannot be “tough on crime” and be for civil forfeitures such as these because the ultimate in illegal acts is violating one’s constitutional rights.

    If you really do not support the right to trial by jury, due process, protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, or freedom of speech and religion, at least have the courtesy to be honest about it.

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