Lyndon McLellan, 50, has owned a convenience store and gas station in Fairmont, North Carolina, for over 13 years. He has worked hard and put in a lot of long days to make it profitable. Lyndon managed to save up $100,000 in that span of time, spending wisely and saving whenever he could.
Lyndon always respected the law, and mainly kept to himself. He wouldn't make daily deposits, since he worked most of the time. Also, he was located in a rural area, miles away from the bank. When he did make a deposit, sometimes it was in the thousands, especially since it was a "cash only" business. He didn't think anything about it. But that changed one day last year.
Suspicious of Lyndon's large deposits (nearing $10,000 some-times), the I.R.S. sent agents to his business in October. They said that he was seemingly up to no good, but Lyndon explained to them that he was not doing anything illegal or wrong. They couldn't prove anything, but it didn't matter. The I.R.S., using civil forfeiture, seized his entire bank account of $107,702.66! Civil forfeiture was never supposed to be used against law-abiding citizens; it was intended to be used as a provision against drug dealing and other crime-related activities. But once the I.R.S. had the money, they were not going to return it, since they could keep it for themselves (the Justice Department was operating similarly). They even told him to "shut up" about it or the situation was going to get worse!
But the media got wind of this injustice and demanded answers from the government. At first, the I.R.S. said that they would return half of the money, but then agreed to return it all after mounting pressure. But what about the other hundreds of yearly cases? What about the millions of dollars seized every year? There has been a significant spike in civil forfeiture cases in the past few years. Some are related to illegal activity, but most are not. Since it costs too much to fight your own government, many just give up. Too often, agents in our government are lawless and self-serving, not caring about anyone but themselves! It is a shame when your own government makes war with law-abiding citizens be-cause of injustice and money-hungry greed!