Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Feds Offer to Return $57,330 Seized From Legal Immigrant at Hopkins Airport. He Says They're Short $770 and He'll Wait for Trial

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 10:33 AM

click to enlarge Rustem Kazazi, left, sits at home with wife, Lejla, and son Erald in Parma Heights, Ohio. - COURTESY OF INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE
  • Courtesy of Institute for Justice
  • Rustem Kazazi, left, sits at home with wife, Lejla, and son Erald in Parma Heights, Ohio.

Last week we shared the story of Rustem Kazazi, a retired Albanian police officer and U.S. citizen living in Parma Heights who had over $58,000 seized at Hopkins airport by U.S. Customs agents without being charged with a crime.

The money was seized through civil asset forfeiture, a widespread practice that allows law enforcement to take cash and property from people who have not been convicted or charged of a crime. Officers claimed the amount of cash he was carrying was "suspicious."

Kazazi filed suit, which drew national headlines. The government, it seems, is eager to make this go away.

As first reported by, minutes from a hearing with U.S. District Judge Dan Polster and the two sides showed Customs was "beginning the process of tendering a check to Petitioner Kazazi in the amount of $57,330 plus interest."

But that's not how much they took, Kazazi maintains. They're short $770, and so he indicated that he will wait for his trial — scheduled for Dec. 10, 2018 as of now — to seek the total sum.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 29, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation