PITTSBURGH (WHTM) – A western Pennsylvania man is suing the federal government to get back $82,373 in cash seized last August at Pittsburgh International Airport.
The lawsuit filed by Terry Rolin, his daughter Rebecca Brown, and the Institute for Justice claims the Transportation Security Administration and Drug Enforcement Agency violate the constitutional rights of flyers when they seize money without probable cause.
The lawsuit claims Rolin, a 79-year-old retiree, no longer felt comfortable keeping his life savings around the house, so he asked his daughter to take the money and open a joint bank account. Brown, who was visiting Pittsburgh for a weekend, took the money on a flight back to Boston.
During a security screening, TSA agents took Brown’s carry-on bag and made her wait to be questioned by state troopers. She eventually was allowed to leave for her gate with the money but was approached again before boarding by a trooper and a DEA agent.
After interrogating Brown and calling Rolin, the agent seized the money because it was greater than $5,000 and thus considered a suspicious amount, the lawsuit states.
“When the DEA agent and the trooper approached me, I was embarrassed and afraid,” Brown told WPXI-TV. “This isn’t just my money, It’s my dad’s money. This is his life savings.”
The lawsuit says the DEA has continued to hold the money since August 26 and has taken actions to permanently it using civil forfeiture. Neither Rolin nor Brown has been charged with any crime.
The Institute for Justice said the lawsuit is the third time they’ve sued the federal government to return cash taken from air travelers. In the two other cases, the government eventually returned the money.
Video from WPXI-TV; https://www.wpxi.com/