Without Apology, DEA Returns $82,000 That It Stole from Retiree

‘It is shameful that it takes a lawsuit and an international outcry for the federal government to do the right thing…’

Retiree, 79, Sues TSA+DEA after They Seize $82,000 w/ Civil Asset Forfeiture

Terry Rolin / PHOTO: Institute for Justice

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A 79-year-old retiree will have $82,000 returned to him after the Drug Enforcement Agency seized his money without arresting him or charging him with a crime.

The Institute for Justice assisted Terry Rolin in filing a lawsuit against the DEA in January for stealing $82,373 from his daughter, Rebecca Brown, who was traveling with her father’s money through the Pittsburgh International Airport, IJ reported.

The DEA sent the institute a letter in response to the lawsuit that said, after further review, it had decided to return the property.

“I’m grateful that my father’s life savings will soon be returned, but the money never should have been taken in the first place,” Brown said.  “I can’t believe they’re not even offering an apology for the stress and pain they caused for my family.”


Being without the money had led to many unnecessary inconveniences and, in some cases, pain and suffering, she said. “Without this money, my father was forced to put off necessary dental work—causing him serious pain for several months—and could not make critical repairs to his truck.”

The cash was originally flagged by the Transportation Security Administration.

Although federal law does not limit the amount of undeclared cash that Americans can carry on domestic flights, the TSA stopped Brown when she was traveling last August. Pennsylvania State Troopers interrogated her.

Finding no probable cause to arrest her or take the money, they sent her to her gate.

On her way, however, DEA agents took the money.

“The government shouldn’t be able to take money for no reason, hang on to it for months and then give it back like nothing happened, which is why the lawsuit we filed will continue.” Brown said. “No one should be forced to go through this nightmare.”

Despite the outcome, IJ will press forward with the class-action lawsuit, since it seeks to limit the illegal and unconstitutional practice of seizing money without probable cause, from American airline passengers.

“We are glad that Terry will get his money back, but it is shameful that it takes a lawsuit and an international outcry for the federal government to do the right thing,” said IJ Senior Attorney Dan Alban. “We know that this routinely happens to other travelers at airports across the United States.”