FBI Seizes $400,000 from Robbery Victim

An Ohio man whose house was robbed had more than $400,000 confiscated by the FBI as a result of an investigation of the crime, the Lima News reported Dec. 18.

Luther Ricks Sr. said the money, which had been stored in a safe and eluded the thieves' grasp during a summer 2007 break-in, was his life savings. But officers from the Lima Police Department who were investigating the robbery seized the money and turned it over to the FBI. Now, the agency is telling Ricks he must prove he earned the money legally if he wants it back.

Police said they seized the money after finding marijuana in Ricks' house. However, Ricks was not charged with a crime, and was cleared in the investigation of the robbery, in which the retired steelworker, 63, fatally shot one of the robbers. Ricks shot the thief after he attacked and stabbed his son.

Ricks said that he used the marijuana to treat the pain of arthritis, shingles, and a hip replacement. He said the money was saved over a lifetime of frugal living. But the legal director of the ACLU of Ohio, Jeff Gamso, said Ricks will have a tough time getting his money back.

“The law of forfeiture basically says you have to prove you're innocent. It's terrible, terrible law,” he said. “The law will presume it is the result of ill-gotten gains.”

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