A Florida trucking company has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Patrol after seizure of $181,500 in cash found in trucker’s carry on bag at Tampa International Airport.
The story is pretty complex, so let’s dive in. This story starts last year when the owners of FGL Transport, a Tampa based trucking company with 24 trucks and drivers according to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s database, gave one of their employees, Boris Nulman $191,500 in cash in a carry-on bag and a plane ticket to Cleveland where he was to purchase 5 semi-trucks.
According to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, the trucking company had made plans to purchase the trucks from individual sellers in Cleveland. The use of cash to purchase trucks is “common practice within the trucking company” the complain alleges, and according to the Times article the seller of the trucks ”didn’t want a bank wire or cashier’s check because of the fraud tied to certified checks in Florida,” so the trucking company loaded up their employee with cash and sent him on his way.
When he arrived at the airport and sent the bag through the TSA scanner, officers pulled the bag and its owner aside for inspection and interview. After 45 minutes, Nulman was released, but only $10,000 was given back to him, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Nulman was able to rebook his flight to Cleveland, as he missed the original flight while he was detained.
Nulman was given a receipt for the remaining $181,500 by an Homeland Security Investigations agent, Eric Thelander, which stated “MONEY CONTAINED IN 2 BAGS. ESTIMATED VALUE IS $181,500” Authorities later permanently seized the funds, alleging “that the seizure involved an alleged violation of the provisions of Title 18, U.S.C., section 981 (a)(1)(c) as proceeds of the manufacture, sale or distribution of a controlled substance,” according to the complaint. The notice of the seizure also noted a discrepancy between how much was originally seized by Agent Thelander. The seizure notice listed the value of $159,950. The government, according to the complaint, seems intent on not returning the money to the trucking company owners.
The complaint argues that the TSA agents did not have the legal right to seize the money or detain Nulman. The plaintiff’s are seeking the money to be returned plus damages to be awarded for the “unlawful” detainment.