Rebecca Brown of Lowell, Massachusetts visited her father, Terry Rolin, who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a weekend in late August 2019. During her visit, Terry told her about more than $80,000 in cash savings he had been keeping in his home. They agreed that she would take the money and deposit it in a new joint bank account so that she could help him manage the money to pay for expenses including replacing his teeth and fixing his truck.
Rebecca was only in town for the weekend and the banks had already closed, so she decided to take the money home with her in her carry-on bag and deposit it there. The money was seized from Rebecca when she tried to fly home to Boston from the Pittsburgh International Airport. As she went through TSA screening, her carry-on bag was pulled aside and held by TSA screeners, who questioned her about the cash and called Pennsylvania state troopers to the scene. She was held and questioned for 30 minutes or more. Finally, she was allowed to go to her gate with her money. But then one of the troopers approached her with a DEA agent, who had even more questions for her. The DEA agent asked to see the money, interrogated her, called her father, and then seized all of the money. But it is perfectly legal to travel with any amount of cash. Neither Rebecca nor Terry did anything wrong, nor were they charged with any crime, yet the federal government is trying to take Terry’s life savings using civil forfeiture.