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DOJ: Storage Company Sold Navy Seaman’s Stuff While He Was Overseas

Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas E. Ward — a 30-year veteran — will receive $150,000 compensation after many of his prized vintage car parts and household items were auctioned off by the storage company he trusted to keep them while he was deployed overseas.

The company allegedly continued to accept payment for storing Ward’s property even after they sold all of it.

The San Diego based storage company Across Town Movers has agreed to pay $170,000 to settle allegations that they systematically took advantage of ten military members by illegally auctioning off their property.

“While Master Chief Ward was overseas focusing on defending our country, he understandably did not expect the very company paid to safeguard his valuable property to instead auction it off in his absence,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office of Southern California filed the lawsuit under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act which protects members of the military from certain obligations, such as paying for a storage unit while on active duty. A storage unit owner must get a court order to auction off a service member’s property if they are active duty or have been on active duty within the last 90 days.

Nine other military members will be compensated by the company as part of the settlement. The company also agreed to stop wrongfully auctioning off military members’ property.

“This settlement will not only provide relief to ten service members, but also will ensure that business practices change to better protect others,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.

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