BEVERLY HILLS—On Thursday, September 29, a federal judge decided that the FBI’s search and seizure of items from safe deposit boxes located in a Beverly Hills safe deposit company was constitutional. 

Customers seeking the return of their property said the government overstepped constitutional protections in efforts to uncover illegal activity and misled the judge who approved the FBI and U.S. Attorney Office’s request for a search warrant. They argued that the raid violated box holders Fourth Amendment Rights. 

Valuable items like jewelry, poker chips, banking information and a total of $86 million in cash was seized. 

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner found that law enforcement did not exceed the bounds of the warrant that allowed the opening of 1,400 safe-deposit boxes at U.S. Private Vaults. It was announced that lawyers representing the box holders will be appealing the decision. 

The vault company was fined a total of $1.1 million back in June for money laundering and is no longer functioning as a business. The company admitted that it sought out those engaging in criminal activity as customers who would often keep illegal money in their safe deposit boxes. According to the plea agreement, the customers paid over $550,000 in cash and bitcoin in exchange for the anonymous use of safety deposit boxes “to store the proceeds of their offenses, most often in stacks of $100 bills.” Judge Klausner recognized that there were customers that used the safe deposit boxes for legitimate reasons and were not all engaging in criminal activity. 

The Nevada based business was raided by the FBI in 2021 alleging three separate conspiracies to violate federal law. Box holders who denied criminal culpability successfully petitioned the judge to have their property returned.