Small-Business Owner Fights To Reclaim Money Stolen By Feds


If someone takes $35,000 from your bank account without your permission and for no reason, it’s called stealing. If the Federal government does it, it’s called civil forfeiture.

Tarik Dehko is the epitome of an American success story. The 69-year-old came to the United States from Baghdad, Iraq, in 1970 and by 1978 had opened a small grocery store in Michigan. In the more than three decades since he opened Schott’s Market, the business has grown to employ about 30 people in the small town of Bloomfield Township.

But recently, the man who appears to be a portrait of the American dream achieved is living a nightmare. In January, the Federal government obtained a secret warrant and took every dollar out of his grocery store bank account. Why? Because government agents did not like the way Dehko went about depositing money into his bank account.

Civil forfeiture allows the government to take cash, cars, homes and other property from people without ever convicting or even charging them with a crime. Often, victims of this government theft never see their belongings again.

In Dehko’s case, investigators allege that the business owner was attempting to avoid complying with a Federal law that requires banks to report cash transactions in excess of $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service because the business owner routinely made deposits just under the threshold.

Dehko said that frequently makes deposits of just less than $10,000 (not that he should have to explain because he didn’t break any law) because his insurance policy covers cash losses only up to $10,000.

Nine months later, the businessman has yet to see a dime of his money returned or to be given any information from the Federal thieves who stole his money.

Late last month, Dehko and his daughter and business partner Sandy teamed up with the Institute for Justice to fight back in Federal court.

“Federal forfeiture law allows the government to take your entire bank account just because it doesn’t like the way you deposit or withdraw your money,” said IJ Senior Attorney Clark Neily. “The government should not be allowed to just show up at your doorstep like a playground bully and take away your milk money.  But that’s exactly what the government did to Terry and Sandy.”

Larry Salzman, an attorney at the Institute, said a victory in the case could mark the beginning of the end for what amounts to a billion-dollar Federal criminal enterprise.

“Last year alone, the government took in more than $4 billion in forfeiture money,” said Salzman. “Taking money from innocent people like Terry and Sandy is wrong. Thankfully, the Dehkos are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court if that’s what it takes to vindicate the right to private property for Americans everywhere.”

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • vicki

    RICO (Civil forfeiture laws) have been on the books for more than 40 years. It is about time someone stepped up and just said NO.

    • independent thinker

      I think you are wrong about the RICO laws being the “justification” for this illegal confiscation. While the RICO laws do provide for the freezing of a persons assets I believe the “justification” for this seizure comes from the war on drug laws that allow for the illegal confiscation of properties. Same difference just a different source for the “justification”.

      • Susan Fuchs

        But if you have not been charged with anything, how can anyone justify this? You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But if the Federal Government is doing this and not returning property, then they are guilty of Rico laws!

        • steve

          welcome to Obama’s government. when they take everything from you, only then will people fight and then it is to late. people in this country are wishful thinkers not realists.

          • tim

            People in this country are cowards, their afraid their gonna lose their big screen tv and their toyota or mercedes!

          • Briylaln

            I for one am not afraid to loose a big screen or my 1995 truck. What I am afraid of is not seeing my little girl grow up because some government thug put a bullet in my head. If worse comes to worse, just like in viet nam, I will stand my ground. Still a lot of us old veterans and hopefully young vetrans that know what this country is supposed to be, not what it’s becoming.

          • Susan Fuchs

            sounds as though you have given up as well…..This is NOT obama’s government, it is the citizens government!

          • steve

            just being a realist. this system is going down and no one can stop it . the debt is to great to over come (17trillion and counting) . then add what obamas doing and its a receipt for disaster.

          • Susan Fuchs

            I agree this whole system is going down, but, if you believe in the Lord, there is a good ending,….

          • vicki

            obama’s administration may be guilty of many things but civil forfeiture laws were created a LONG time ago so EVERY administration since carries this guilt.


        • Wellarmed

          Agreed Susan Fuchs. RICO statutes are unconstitutional. It was just another in a long line of rulings by SCOTUS that forces me to understand where our nation is headed.

          As far as being innocent until proven guilty is concerned, we currently have the vast majority of Americans in this once great nation who will urinate in a bottle or provide a hair sample for their employers or the US Government at the drop of a hat, and not think once about the ramifications of their decision.

          By and large Americans do not care about protecting their civil liberties. The vast majority have a specific price at which their privacy can be purchased. They can rest easily at night on beds of cash that only cost them their freedom.

          RICO or Civil Forfeiture, both are repugnant to the Constitution. Until these weapons are turned on those wielding them nothing will change, and I have little to no hope that Americans will ever become alarmed enough to do so.

          • Briylaln

            I think about it everytime I have to pee in the bottle. I sure don’t like it, but if I refuse to pee, they consider it a positive test. If I didn’t earn a good salary here, I would leave. I only have 6 more years of this BS. What I’m worried about is with Obama care, if they are going to make me pee in a bottle every time I go to the doctor and when I start getty back MY money from social security, if they will make me pee to get what’s mine.

        • independent thinker

          I never said it was right I said that is their “justification”. There have been reports of sheriff departments who used the “war on drugs” to routinely confiscate anything the department wanted especially from people that were from out of state. Unfortunately the courts have gone along with this practice and let it continue.

      • oldhill

        The war on Drugs is a farce. I have three friends that fought in Afghanistan and came back on three different flights. Each of them told me personally that they flew back with cargo holds full of Opium produced in the CIA controlled fields in Afghanistan. The war was to get the Poppy fields back and no other reason.
        A friend of mine had a class Q presidential level security clearance. He had a meeting in March 2002 with the head of FEMA. He was told that in September they were going to have a “drill” involving tall buildings, planes, mini nukes, anthrax, and other biologicals. My friend asked if this was a practice run or real. He said, “they just got quiet and turned kind-a white.” Osama died in Qatar in April 2002 so he could not have done 911. Our evil gov did.
        Did you know we have pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald standing in front of the school depository building as Kennedy passed by, so he had to transverse three floors, pick up the gun, aim, and shoot Kennedy before he went out of range.
        As a FBI agent said of the Warren report, Creative Forensics.

        • Toy Pupanbai

          The Taliban almost entirely suppressed the opium poppy crop.

          • Vigilant

            Your point?

            When Mussolini was in charge, the trains ran on time.

          • oldhill

            A friend of mine had a class Q presidential level security clearance. He had a meeting in March 2001 with the head of FEMA. He was told that in September they were going to have a “drill” involving tall buildings, planes, mini nukes, anthrax, and other biologicals. Though evil to the core, the Taliban were not guilty of 911. It is our gov that is guilty and more evil then the Taliban ever were. You are entitled to your opinion when it does not contradict the facts. These are the FACTS! You are not entitled to your opinion when it does not line up with the facts.

          • Vigilant

            “the Taliban were not guilty of 911.”

            No kidding! Too bad no one ever accused them of it.

            Talk about playing with the facts….

            P.S. My comment was addressed to Toy Pupanbai regarding the poppy fields. Your response does not answer the question.

          • oldhill

            Ah, got you there, the News media slanted the news to make it look that way. I remember this happening. I also remember the day in 1985 when I learned that the networks would report bald face lies to the public as the truth to further their agenda.

          • Vigilant

            “Ah, got you there…” What in the Sam Hill are you talking about? I think you’re not playing with a full deck, dude.

            Al Quaeda was accused, NOT the Taliban.

          • Robert Messmer

            You claim them as facts, please provide a link.

        • Vigilant

          “Osama died in Qatar in April 2002 so he could not have done 911.”

          Better re-check your dates.

          • wandamurline

            Being a conspiracy person, I believe bin Laden died years ago because he had renal failure and required dialysis to continue to live. When the raid was conducted, I was watching a British investigative (we don’t have any of these anymore) journalist and she was talking to an Afghan man who said America had made a mistake, that the man they shot used to be his neighbor, that he only looked like bin Laden. Al Quada would have had a double so their followers did not know that he was dead, and you have to ask when did the videos stop and only the audio tapes begin? Why were the American people not allowed to see the pictures of bin Laden, why was he dumped into the sea so quickly, and why, when only the Navy Seals would be the only ones who knew the truth, have their helicopter hit by a missle from a “lone” gunman? In connecting the dots, I find that there are a number missing just like Benghazi. Believe what you want, but Obama needed a lift to his political second term reelection …. I think they knew the man was not bin Laden…again, we have been had.

          • Vigilant

            You are entitled to your opinions.

            My comment is still valid.

            BTW, I don’t care when he died. Makes no difference In the scheme of things.

          • oldhill

            I have agreed with the statement about the date. As far as the facts go, no one has a right to an opinion when it varies from the known facts and or truth.

          • Vigilant

            Well, I have no beef with that comment.

            I would only take exception if someone tried to pass off as truth something that is pure speculation or misinformation. That happens a lot with conspiracy theorists.

          • oldhill

            No, that happens with undercover government operatives appearing to be conspiracy theorists. This is an attempt to discredit information that is true. A prime example is personal. The gov says that the ocean levels will rise in our lifetime. Last August I caught wind of the fact that the gov was moving strategic military and equipment away from the coasts. The so called informant said the disaster was here, and so I told my son. It was not here and now my son does not believe in the Conspiracy idea. The move that discredited me and many others was in advance of the Hurricane that hit New Jersey that was spun up by the world bankers to help insure the presidents reelection. A few hundred lives and a few billion dollars is nothing to bother with when you are part of a group that wants to start the 3rd W W and kill 6.95 billion people.

          • Vigilant

            Yes, oldhill, I’m sure the conspiracy theorists are always right and everyone else is wrong. You go on believing that.

            At my age, I learned a long time ago to approach EVERY assertion with skepticism, no matter who makes the claim. And to be truthful, anyone who believes there are people out there who want to kill off most of the world’s population,…well, I’ll not even legitimize that subject with an answer.

            You might find some insights that are characteristic of your mental type in Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer.”

          • oldhill

            yah, you were right, April 2001 is the correct date

        • Wellarmed

          I also know of former soldier who served in Afghanistan. She told me of being placed on a security detail guarding poppy fields. The individual (female MP) told me it was at that moment she understood what this “war” was all about.

        • Robert Messmer

          I was under the impression that Q level was a Department of Energy clearance while a Yankee White was presidential level. Even if Osama died in April of 2001 that doesn’t mean that he didn’t plan and/or request that plans be made for 9/11. You know, like Obama killed Osama. We all know the Obama didn’t do it, but he gave the orders to have it done.

      • Adrark01

        Rico statutes allow confiscation when the money and or property is related to a criminal act, such as money laundering! Innocent people have lost purchased property because the Feds found it was previously tied to a criminal enterprise, who sold it to some unkowing individual

      • vicki

        Discusses the rationalizations used by politicians to justify civil forfeiture. But even the FBI recognizes the connection.

    • Robert Messmer

      RICO was not the justification – it is a straight civil forfeiture based on the “structuring law” expanded by the Patriot Act. Since everyone knows that banks, etc have to report transactions in excess of 10 grand (started as 5K but government was swamped so changed it to 10), Feds made it illegal to “structure” your transactions so as not to trigger the report. Since most of these cases of government theft are settled out of court, there apparently has not been a ruling by SCOTUS yet.

  • northbrook

    Another way the federal government steals from the american public. At the very least the Feds should require a warrant to seize funds from a private account.

    • Robert Messmer

      According to the article they had a “secret” warrant.

  • US Army (retired)


    • Use FEAR and INTIMIDATION to force people into surrendering their money.
    • THREATEN the use of force to coerce you into capitulating to their demands.
    • LIE to the media and the public about their true intentions.
    • Have a STRONG CONTRADICTION between their public persona of “compassion” versus their private behavior of ruthless aggression and destruction.
    • Believe they have an INHERENT RIGHT TO RULE over everyone else.
    • Have NO RESPECT whatsoever for individual rights, liberties or the rule of law.
    • Believe they can simply INVENT THE RULES as they go along, complete outside of law.
    • BELIEVE THEY ARE EXEMPT from the same laws and rules they force everyone else to follow.
    • BLAME EVERYONE ELSE for the problems and disruptions they have caused to society.
    • Are led by SOCIOPATHS.

    Thanks to the SCOTUS, a dangerous precedent now exists that allows the federal government to simply seize funds out of your bank account at any time, for any amount, for any reason whatsoever, as long as they call it a “tax.”


    • Dave

      Great analogy! I think that it could be said that your post also describes how evil is thrust upon us if we do not vigilantly stand against it. “The Law” authored by Frederick Bastiat should be required reading for all gov’t officials and especially for all involved in the judicial and legislative process.

    • Robert Messmer

      I would submit that between the two, the Mafia is more honest in that they do not claim to be legal.

  • jdn

    Everyone and everything belongs in totality to the Federal Government . Do not believe me . Just read and try to decipher a few of the millions of laws on the books or just look with an open mind at the actions of our government and present your argument .

  • FreedomTrainUSA

    If the RICO Act provides for Confiscation of funds when it involves a crime of Criminal organizrion….Then We the People…should be able to Confiscate back from the Feds what is rightfully ours in the First Place…..BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS THE LARGEST CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION ON THE PLANET…

    • dan

      there is one that is greater :
      The World Bank of International Monetary Settlemenrt


    welcome to Amerika, your eyes people,we’ve been telling you this for years now!this is what happens,you don’t want to listen to people or believe them until it happens to you and then it’s too late!
    but,their may be more to this story than meets the eye!i owned buisnesses over the years and my deposit’s always fluctuated up and down,never ever the exact same over the years!!mmmmm,maybe somethings a bit hinky?

    • jdn

      If something is a bit hinky as you say , isn’t that where investigations , evidence and due process are supposed to take place ? Oh that’s right the Constitution is an out dated piece of paper that holds no relevance today .

    • Robert Messmer

      And how would the Feds know? Remember he never went over the 10,000$ threshold? So the bank(?) illegally reported him because he didn’t make deposits requiring them to report? Feds watching him for some other reason and decided to steal his money so they can “flip” him? The article didn’t say his deposits were always the same, just that they didn’t go to/over $10,000 so all that should be necessary would be to look at his insurance and if it does only cover cash up to but not more than $10,000 he should get his money back. His attorney needs to have the court make them explain HOW they knew since there had been no reports. Besides there is no legal requirement stating that you have to make deposits of sufficient amount to require a report on it.
      PS Well maybe, there is a “structuring” law that says it is illegal to structure your transactions so as to avoid the reporting requirements.

  • Bob rice

    Do you think MAYBE he didn’t go to the bank to make a deposit everyday??? MAYBE he waited until the deposit approached the amount that he was covered by his insurance company…

  • vicki

    Some history on civil forfeiture

    This article also describes how RICO laws are intimately entwined with civil forfeiture.

  • Patriot66

    There is no real reason to keep money in the bank, and nothing to gain from it. People need to stop putting their money in the hands of the ones who mean to do them the most harm.

    • Robert Messmer

      Sure it was the store’s account, have to write checks for inventory, etc.