At 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Kenneth Wright of Stockton, California had his house door busted down by a SWAT team, who dragged him out of his house, held him down and handcuffed him, searched the house, and then took Wright and his three kids to a police station. The interesting thing about this: He had done nothing wrong! The SWAT team was just acting on a search warrant from the Department of Education to find Wright's wife, who'd defaulted on her student loans (See update below). But they're estranged, and she doesn't live there.
KXTV reports on this especially foul abuse of police power for collection of debts:
The U.S. Department of Education issued the search and called in the S.W.A.T for his wife's defaulted student loans.
"They busted down my door for this," Wright said. "It wasn't even me."
According to the Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General, the case can't be discussed publicly until it is closed, but a spokesperson did confirm that the department did issue the search warrant at Wright's home.
There are probably some college students and post-grads with outstanding debts reading this and getting scared like the dickens. But you have nothing to worry about! The Fed shock troops appear to go after your innocent estranged spouses, only.
Update: Here's a statement from the Department of Education — attributed to Education Department spokesperson Justin Hamilton — that claims the raid was part of a more serious criminal investigation:
Yesterday, the Department of Education's Office of Inspector General executed a search warrant at a Stockton, Calif., residence with the presence of local law enforcement authorities.
While it was reported in local media that the search was related to a defaulted student loan, that is incorrect. This is related to a criminal investigation. The Inspector General's Office does not execute search warrants for late loan payments.
Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we can't comment on the specifics of the case. We can say that the OIG's office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.
All further questions on this issue should be directed to the Department of Education's Inspector General's Office.