Grocer accuses Feds of seizing his bank account for no good reason in lawsuit

Fraser, Michigan (WXYZ) - When customers come in Schott's Supermarket in Fraser, they are greeted by name.  They also can be heard talking about how the store has one of the best meat market's on the eastside.

Tarik Dehko says he is proud to have managed the family business for 35 years, but it  got tough 8 months ago when IRS agents walked in the store.

"They told me, ‘We took money from your account.'  I said, ‘How you going to just take money from my account?" said Dehko.

They emptied the businesses bank account, taking more than $36,000.

"They almost stopped operations."

Dehko says agents told him they noticed he never deposited more than $10,000 in his bank account at a time.  Banks report deposits over $10,000 to the IRS. The IRS said his habits were evidence he was trying to launder money.

Dehko says he explained to them that he makes the smaller deposits for two legitimate reasons.   One reason is he doesn't make a ton of money.  The other reason is that his insurance policy only covers losses below $10,000.  As a result he would never send a worker to the bank with more than is insured.

"I have been in business 35 years.  I never had a problem. I am honest. I work hard."

He says he expected the IRS to apologize and give his money back, but that hasn't happened in the last 8 months.  He also hasn't been charged with any crime. 

He now has teamed up with the Institute for Justice to fight to get his cash back.  It helped him file suit today against the IRS and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Seven Action News contacted both for comment.  A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office says they have not yet been served with the suit and cannot comment.

The Institute says that civil forfeiture laws right now allow the government to seize cash during an investigation, and there is no way to quickly get a hearing to fight to get it back.  It wants the laws changed

Dehko is hoping a judge will take a look at the IRS investigation and decide his money never should have been taken.

"We are in a Democratic Country," said Dehkho. "If we did something wrong, show me what I did."

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