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IRS Threatens Prison For Depositing Cash In 'Wrong' Amounts

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IRS Threatens Prison For Depositing Cash In 'Wrong' Amounts

'In May 2013, the IRS seized more than $68,000 from Vocatura’s Bakery—a third-generation family business located in Norwich, Connecticut—because they claimed the owners violated so-called “structuring” laws by depositing cash in the bakery’s bank account in amounts less than $10,000. Three years later, the government still had the bakery’s money, although it had never brought its case before a judge, and was threatening to launch a sweeping investigation into practically every aspect of the business’s finances in an effort to find some retroactive justification for taking the money. The case was the ultimate example of the abusive law enforcement tactic of seizing first and questioning later—much later.

In February 2016, a federal prosecutor demanded that two Vocatura brothers, David and Larry, plead guilty to criminal charges of “structuring” their bank deposits. Under the proposed plea, the brothers would have faced 3-4 years in prison and would have agreed to forfeit the initial $68,000 as well as an additional $160,000 in personal assets. Spam_A Spam_B Believing they had done nothing wrong, the Vocatura brothers refused to sign the plea. The federal prosecutor and the IRS retaliated by serving Vocatura’s Bakery with a wildly overbroad grand jury subpoena for practically every business record from the past eight years as part of a fishing expedition to retroactively justify the seizure.

The IRS’s continued pursuit of the Vocaturas violated the agency’s own policies. After facing criticism over several high-profile abuses of the structuring laws to pursue civil forfeiture against innocent small-business owners, the IRS announced that it would only apply structuring laws to real criminals. The Justice Department adopted similar policy changes in March 2015. But those voluntary policy changes proved insufficient to stop the government from pursuing forfeitures based on so-called “structuring” of bank deposits. Instead, it appears that public outrage over the use of civil forfeiture pushed aggressive prosecutors to pursue threats of criminal sanctions.'

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