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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Go to Bat for Storage Units of Navy Troops

SAN DIEGO (CN) - The U.S. Navy entrusted the goods of its soldiers to the wrong storage company, the Justice Department said in a new federal complaint.

U.S. Attorney Dylan Aste filed the complaint Monday against Horoy Inc. dba Across Town Movers, and the owner-president of that San Marcos company, Daniel Homan.

Though Horoy contracted with the Navy to provide storage for deployed or transferred soldiers, the company violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by selling the personal property of those troops without obtaining the necessary court orders, according to the complaint.

The government says 11 service members saw their personal property sold by Horoy since 2011.

A 30-year Navy veteran described as Master Chief Ward is the only alleged victim of Horoy identified by name in the complaint.

When the Navy transferred Ward to Japan in 2006, Ward's personal property was shipped to Horoy for storage pursuant to an agreement with Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, according to the complaint.

Fleet is not a party to the action.

Though Ward had an original return date of Dec. 31, 2009, the Navy extended Ward's tour of duty, according to the complaint.

After some apparent miscommunication about converting Ward's account from a government account to an account Ward would maintain as an individual, Fleet told Horoy on Dec. 30, 2009, that Ward's account was a government expense, the complaint states.

Though Horoy continued charging the government for Ward's storage expenses through December 2012, Horoy had sold Ward's personal property at auction on June 1, 2011, according to the complaint.

The government says it only learned about the auction when it contacted Horoy about Ward's account in January 2013.

Ward learned that vintage original car parts and various household items that he had put into storage were auctioned "just before he returned home," according to a statement from the Justice Department.

"Defendants had a practice of not checking customers' military status before auctioning off their goods," the complaint states.

Uncle Sam notes that federal law "protects the rights of service members while on active duty by suspending or modifying certain civil obligations."

"The law states that a storage lien may not be enforced against service members during, or 90 days subsequent to, their period of military service without a court order," the DOJ statement says.

In addition to damages for the value of the auctioned goods, Horoy could civil monetary penalties of up to $55,000 for the first offense and $110,000 for each subsequent offense.

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