Rescues seized after airport incident returned to owner


“I didn’t expect this to happen to me because there is no law against the transport of cash,” he said.

NEW ORLEANS – “I’m really excited. This is a victory for the city of New Orleans,” said deacon and resident of Lower Ninth Ward, Kermit Warren.

Today, Warren walks lighter and taller.

But, about a month ago, that was a different story.

“It was really hard for me to pay the bills and do the grocery shopping,” Warren said in an interview with Mike Perlstein.

Perlstein first introduced Eyewitness News viewers to Warren in August.

About a year ago, he lost his job as a shoe shiner at the Roosevelt Hotel due to the COVID pandemic and decided to take his savings, $ 28,000, to fly to Ohio and d ” get a new tow truck to start a business with his son, a new Policeman from Orléans.

“Unfortunately when we got there the truck was not suitable for our job,” he said.

So, money in hand, they went home.

“And then everything went crazy for us,” he said of that day.

His savings were seized by federal agents at the airport.

“I didn’t expect this to happen to me because there is no law against the transport of cash,” he said.

“Unfortunately, both the TSA and the DEA have a cash collection and cessation policy that they use against travelers, many innocent travelers,” said Dan Alban.

Alban from the Institute for Justice represents Warren and says it happens more often than you might think.

“He uses this process called civil forfeiture which does not require any criminal charges to attempt to permanently hold the money and that is exactly what happened to Kermit,” Alban said.

When questioned by officers at the airport in panic, Warren said he too was a police officer, like his son.

“When someone takes that amount of money out of your mind, it’s not in the right place right now,” Warren said.

Warren and his son have not been arrested. But, the officers suspected that the money was related to illegal drugs, so they took it.

“Civil confiscation disproportionately affects people of color, many studies have shown this,” Alban said.

“I really encourage young men, especially of color, to go to school,” Warren said.

Rather than going through a long litigation process, sent several years of W2, check stubs, etc.

“I like to keep all of these papers in a safe place in case I need them and the truth has prevailed,” he said.

On Thursday, his agreement was signed.

It’s been a year, when Warren wrestled.

The feds say they’ll give him his money back before Thanksgiving.

“I love what Channel 4 has done for me,” he said.

“Someone has to have that voice for the less fortunate and I guess God just chose me.”

Warren says he will keep all of his money in a bank from now on. He plans to share it with his grandchildren, the church and the community.

The Institute for Justice is working to reform civil confiscation. They have several class actions open, including one involving Warren.

But they need your help to implement effective reform.

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