Man getting back his $82K life savings after it was seized at Pittsburgh International Airport

PITTSBURGH — A man’s life savings of more than $82,000 will be returned to him after it was seized in August at Pittsburgh International Airport, officials said.

In a letter from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Institute for Justice said it was told, “After further review, a decision has been made to return the property.”

Terry Rolin, of South Fayette Township, and his daughter, Rebecca Brown, are still suing the DEA and the Transportation Security Administration, according to the Institute for Justice. The suit is looking to end the seizure of cash from air travelers without probable cause and includes class action claims and an individual claim for damages.

Rolin’s life savings was seized Aug. 26 from his daughter, who was trying to fly to her home in Massachusetts after she was asked by her 79-year-old retired father to help manage the cash.

Brown said she didn’t have time to get to a bank before leaving and made sure traveling with so much money was legal.

A Pennsylvania State Police trooper and a DEA agent asked Brown about the money and had her call her father, who was disoriented from being awakened early in the morning. Brown was told their stories didn’t match up and they were seizing the cash.

“I’m grateful that my father’s life savings will soon be returned, but the money never should have been taken in the first place. I can’t believe they’re not even offering an apology for the stress and pain they caused for my family,” Brown said in a news release from the Institute for Justice. “Without this money, my father was forced to put off necessary dental work -- causing him serious pain for several months -- and could not make critical repairs to his truck.”

The DEA declined to comment, but in January, law enforcement sources said there was more to the story.

“This shows there was no more to this story,” Brown said.

Created in the 1980s as part of the Crime Control Act, Attorney Dan Alban said the way it is being used now is unconstitutional.

“They cannot treat Americans like ATMs, and they cannot treat travelers as if they’re somehow suspicious simply because they are traveling with cash,” said Alban.

Brown said she believes this was a blatant overreach. She expects the DEA to return the cash within the next month.