Lowell woman suing federal government after DEA seizes her father’s life savings

LOWELL, MASS. (WHDH) - A Lowell woman is suing the federal government after the Drug Enforcement Agency decided to abruptly seize her father’s life savings as she traveled from Pittsburgh to Boston.

Retired railroad engineer Terry Rolin’s life savings of $82,373 was seized by the government, even though he had not been charged with any crime, according to the Institute for Justice.

Rolin’s saved up the cash and kept it in his Pittsburgh home over many years. When he moved out of his old house into a smaller apartment, he didn’t feel safe keeping so much money so he asked his daughter, Rebecca Brown, to take the money home with her to Boston and deposit it into a new joint bank account, and use the money to replace his teeth and fix his truck.

Before departing Pittsburgh to return to Boston, Brown says she checked online and found that it was completely legal to fly domestically with any amount of cash but she never made it back with her father’s money.

Brown’s bag was held by the Transportation Security Administration after she went through a security screening. She was questioned by Pennsylvania state troopers and a DEA agent, who took the money without charging Brown with a crime.

Months later, the government told Rolin’s and Brown that the DEA intends to permanently keep the money using civil forfeiture, a process that allows law enforcement to take the money without convicting anyone of a crime.

Rolin’s and Brown have since teamed up with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit to get the money back. The lawsuit alleges that the DEA and TSA violated the Constitution and acted outside their legal authority.

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