Federalism

These Are the Charges That Require the Department of Education to Send a Dozen Armed Agents to Kick Through Your Front Door

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So what exactly were the suspected crimes that required the Department of Education to send a dozen or so armed men to execute a search warrant at 6 a.m. on the house of a man who was handcuffed for several hours in front of his three bawling pre-teen kids even though the target of the raid was allegedly his estranged wife who no longer lived there? Now we have a partial search warrant to tell us: Financial Aid Fraud, Conspiracy, Theft of Government Funds, False Statement to Government Agency, Wire Fraud. While some of those charges are classic prosecutorial multipliers, it seems likely given this list of DoE Inspector General activities that the underlying charge will be more elaborate than mere trying to weasel out of loan payments.

Then again, take a good long look at that list of DoE prosecutions, and ask yourself, "Which of these crimes would require a dozen armed men barging down the door of a house where three young kids live?" Here's how one of Kenneth Wright's neighbors described the scene in Stockton:

"They surrounded the house; it was like a task force or S.W.A.T team," across the street neighbor Becky said. "They all had guns. They dragged him out in his boxer shorts, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him." […]

Her young daughter, Valerie, said she counted 13 agents and one Stockton police officer outside Wright's home.

"I felt really bad for those kids," said Becky about agents when they brought out Wright's three children. "They were crying really loud."

The trauma and property damage are plenty bad enough, but of course the real problem with militarized raids to execute search warrants for nonviolent crimes is that they're dangerous, to everyone involved.

And for those asking "What the heck is the Department of Education doing executing search warrants," the better question is: How many of the 30 or so presidentially appointed inspectors general in the federal government actively take advantage of the full police power they were granted by the Homeland Security Act of 2002? By law, the Deptartment of Labor, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Tennessee Valley Authority and two dozen other federal agencies with OIGs can send a dozen armed agents to kick down your door. We are truly living in Radley Balko's world: