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Hundreds try to get their money back after FBI raid can’t find wrongdoing

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By Sebastian Hughes
Daily Caller News Foundation

About 300 people are contesting the seizure of their money and valuables by the FBI after the agency failed to produce evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The FBI raided safe deposit boxes rented at the U.S. Private Vaults store at a strip mall in Beverly Hills, California, in March, the LA Times reported. The agency is attempting to confiscate $86 million in cash, in addition to other valuables, such as a stockpile of jewelry.

Federal agents claim criminals were storing loot in the deposit boxes, but have not produced evidence of wrongdoing for the vast majority of those who rented them, the LA Times reported. Prosecutors have thus far outlined 11 individuals with past criminal convictions or pending charges, out of the roughly 800 box holders, to justify the forfeitures.

“It was a complete violation of my privacy,” Joseph Ruiz, an unemployed chef and one of 66 box holders who have filed court claims saying the seizure was unconstitutional, told the LA Times. “They tried to discredit my character.”

The FBI claimed the $57,000 they took from Ruiz was too much for him to have accumulated from his income and that a dog had smelled unspecified drugs on his cash, the LA Times reported. The agency said there was “probable cause” the money came from drug trafficking.

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