Every dollar Terry Rolin had saved was stacked in a Tupperware container: $82,373. At 79, he was worried about keeping so much cash on hand, so he asked his daughter to open a joint bank account. Rebecca Brown was catching a flight from Pittsburgh early the next day last summer and didn’t have time to stop at a bank. She confirmed on a government website that it’s legal to carry any amount of cash on a domestic flight. A Drug Enforcement Administration agent questioned her about the cash, which showed up on a security scan. He insisted Brown put Rolin on the phone to confirm her story. Brown said Rolin, who is suffering mental decline, was unable to verify details. “He just handed me the phone and said, ‘Your stories don’t match,’ ” Brown recalled the agent saying. “ ‘We’re seizing the cash,’ ” the Washington Post reports.
Brown never was told she or her father were under suspicion of committing any crime and neither has been charged. A search of her bag turned up no drugs or other contraband. Brown and Rolin filed a federal, class action Wednesday against DEA and Transportation Security Administration, claiming the agencies violate the Constitution’s ban on unlawful search and seizures by taking cash from travelers without probable cause. The lawsuit claims the only criteria the DEA has for seizing cash is if it finds amounts greater than $5,000. The lawsuit seeks the return of Rolin’s money and an injunction against the practice. Brown said the loss of the savings has prevented Rolin from getting treatment for painful dental problems and kept the family from fixing up his pick-up truck, which is his only means of transportation. Rolin is living on retirement benefits from a job as a railroad engineer.