Lyndon McLellan owned the L&M Convenience Mart in North Carolina for more than a decade when the IRS seized $107,000 from his bank account in 2014. He was accused of illegally “structuring” his payments to evade taxes. However, he was never charged with a crime and he took the case to court and the money was repaid to him in 2015, according to the Washington Post.
However, McLellan was still out on his legal fees and expenses until Feb. 2, when a judge ruled that the federal government should repay him $20,000.
“When the government takes people’s property without justification and then tries to walk away—what this decision really stands for is the idea that the government doesn’t get to put the cost of its mistake on the person who has done nothing wrong,” McLellan’s lawyer, Robert Johnson of the Institute for Justice, told The Daily Signal.
“When the government takes someone’s life and turns it upside down by taking their money through civil forfeiture and then realizes it’s made a mistake, the government has to be the one to bear the costs.”
Judge James Fox ruled that McLellan had the right to demand repayment under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000.
Johnson said his client is thrilled with the outcome. “This is vindication that has been a long time coming. Lyndon did nothing wrong and it’s gratifying to see a federal judge stick up for that fact and to make things right,” he said.
When the case originally went to court, McLellan told The Daily Signal: “It’s not fair to the American people who work for a living that one day they can knock on the door, walk in their businesses, and say, ‘We just took your money.’
“ … I always thought your money was safe in the bank, but I wouldn’t say that now.”