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After spending hours in a patrol car with his young children, Kenneth Wright claimed that a SWAT team had broken into his Stockton home on Tuesday morning in order to execute a student loan warrant after his estranged wife failed to pay her bills.
While his house was searched, it was not by a SWAT team, and it wasn't because his wife failed to make loan payments.
It turns out that the raid was the handiwork of the Department of Education's Office of Inspector General, which is conducting an investigation into student loan fraud.
Since this story broke, there's been a lot of confusion out there about the ability of the DOE to execute a warrant. Here are the facts.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 amended the Inspector General Act of 1978 to allow the DOE's Inspector General to carry firearms, make arrests, and seek and execute warrants for investigatory purposes.
Like all warrants, the student loan warrant executed upon the house of Kenneth Wright was first approved by a judge after he was presented with evidence of probable cause.
The DOE can ask a judge for a warrant, but it cannot issue one itself.
Portions of the warrant released by Wright's attorney indicate that officials were looking for data and documents related to the couple's finances, student aid, and attendance at a post-secondary institute, which indicate that they may have lied on their federal aid applications.
So, was the execution of the student loan warrant lawful? It appears so. What can Kenneth Wright do about it? Probably nothing except ask the Department of Education to repair his front door.
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