On May 11, 2015, Miladis Salgado returned home to find her life turned upside down. While she was at work, police raided her home and seized her entire life savings—$15,000 in cash—based on a tip that her estranged husband was dealing drugs. He wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from attempting to keep Miladis’s money forever.
The DEA would eventually admit that it had no evidence connecting Miladis, her estranged husband, or any of their money to any criminal activity, but the DEA wanted to keep her money anyway. Miladis insisted on vindicating her rights, and after two years of fighting in court, it appeared she was finally about to win. What she didn’t know was that the government lawyers had a trick up their sleeves. Right before the court was about to rule, they suddenly agreed to give the money back and claimed this meant Miladis had not won her case and therefore should not receive an award of attorneys’ fees. Miladis’s lawyer objected, but the court agreed with the government. As a result, Miladis was not made whole, even though she did nothing wrong, as one-third of her wrongfully seized money went to pay her attorney.