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San Diego Company To Pay Service Members To Settle Allegations

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A San Diego-based storage company agreed to pay $170,000 to resolve allegations by the Department of Justice that it unlawfully sold U.S. Navy service members' stored belongings, federal authorities announced today.

A lawsuit filed in March claimed Across Town Movers had a practice of selling active-duty service members' storage lots without obtaining necessary court orders.

"Federal law protects our military service members and their dependents from businesses taking certain adverse actions against them," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. "These protections permit service members to devote their full attention to defending the United States."

Among the aggrieved service members is Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas E. Ward, now retired, who will receive $150,000 as compensation for his auctioned personal property.

A longtime car enthusiast and 30-year veteran, Ward placed his valuable car parts and many household items into storage when he was deployed overseas.

He entrusted Across Town Movers to keep his property safe until he returned home to San Diego. Just before completing his final tour, Ward learned that Across Town Movers had auctioned off all of his stored personal property, including rare, vintage car parts. without providing any notice or obtaining a court order, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Across Town Movers continued to collect payment of storage fees from the government after it sold Ward's goods, prosecutors said.