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Tibor’s Kosher Meats in University Heights was raided Sept. 22. Faces of law enforcement officers have been blurred intentionally.

A co-owner of Tibor’s Kosher Meats is the “target of a federal criminal investigation,” attorney Edmund W. Searby, who represents Eyton Senders of University Heights, wrote in an April 8 motion in federal court.

Tibor’s in University Heights was raided by authorities, along with two homes in Beachwood and one home in University Heights, on Sept. 22, 2020.

Nearly six months later, on March 10, Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry F. DeBaggis II filed a 40-page motion for civil forfeiture for both real estate and personal property, including $2,197,323 in cash, a 1996 Porsche 911, three men’s Rolex watches and a Krugerrand coin. Targeted for real estate seizure are a vacant lot in South Euclid and six houses: one in Moreland Hills, one in Shaker Heights, two in South Euclid and two in Los Angeles.

DeBaggis detailed a large-scale money-laundering operation stemming from Dank Vapes and Dankwoods, which he described as Senders’ and his partner Justen Balay’s drug trade operation making THC vape cartridges. That California operation, according to DeBaggis, is operating illegally. It also has an online presence.

In response to DeBaggis’ civil forfeiture motion, Searby filed an April 8 motion seeking protection from having the information gained from the civil forfeiture used in the criminal investigation.

In it, he said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations “supported by other law enforcement officers” executed search warrants leading to the seizure of assets.

“Mr. Senders should not be compelled to choose between the exercise of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and the loss of his property,” Searby wrote in his accompanying memorandum.

DeBaggis “does not oppose” the request, Searby wrote. “Mr. Senders is now in a situation where to exercise one constitutional right is to lose the other.”

In an April 9 order, Christopher A. Boyko, senior judge for the U.S. District Court of Northern Ohio, Eastern Division, granted Searby’s motion on behalf of Senders.

“The court further orders, per agreement of the government, the claim forms may only be used in this civil action and that the government is precluded from using the claim forms in any criminal prosecution,” Boyko wrote.

The judge added a caveat: “However, the parties may move to vacate or modify this protective order at a later point in time.”

On April 9, Searby filed five sealed claims. One was filed on behalf of Senders; the rest were filed on behalf of limited liability corporations to which he is tied, according to DeBaggis. Those LLCs are named as owners of the two Los Angeles houses and houses located at 2664 S. Green Road in Shaker Heights and 100 Mountain View Drive in Moreland Hills, as well as a vacant lot at South Green Road in South Euclid.

Reached by the Cleveland Jewish News April 9, Searby had no comment.

“Our general policy is not to comment to the media regarding pending cases and investigations involving our clients,” he wrote. “If our position changes, I will let you know.”

Daniel Ball, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Ohio, said he could not comment on the case.

“I can’t provide any more information other than what is available on the public docket,” Ball wrote in an April 9 email to the CJN.

Each entity named in the civil forfeiture complaint had 35 days following service (or 30 days after the posting of notice of the complaint) to file a claim, with an answer due 20 days after filing the initial claim. If no claim or answer is received on properties, the government may proceed to seize the properties through court.

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