BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts storage company that federal prosecutors said illegally auctioned the personal possessions of an Air Force sergeant while he was deployed has agreed to pay the service member $60,000 in compensation, the U.S. attorney's office in Boston announced Thursday.
Father & Son Moving & Storage also agreed to pay a $5,000 civil penalty and implement new policies to prevent future violations of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, according to a statement.
“It is wrong to auction off the possessions of a servicemember who is serving our country overseas,” acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Nathaniel Mendell said. “The law protects service members from this kind of mistreatment — they have more important things to worry about when they are overseas risking their lives to protect our nation."
A voicemail requesting comment was left with an attorney for the storage company.
The company broke the law by failing to obtain a court order before auctioning everything in the technical sergeant's storage units while he was serving in Qatar, prosecutors said.
Father & Son had sent mail indicating that the man owed money to his previous address at Hanscom Air Force Base outside Boston, but he didn't get it in Qatar until almost a month after his possessions had been sold, according to the lawsuit filed in August 2020.
The possessions sold included items that belonged to a cousin who was killed while serving in the military in Afghanistan, his grandfather’s medals, all his furniture including a dresser handmade by his great-grandfather and personal photographs, according to the suit.
The case was referred to the U.S. Justice Department by the Air Force.