Congressman Seth Moulton Introduces Legislation To Protect Servicemembers’ Stored Belongings

Below is a press release from Congressman Seth Moulton, who represents Wilmington in the House of Representatives:

WASHINGTON — Months after Air Force Technical Sergeant Charles Cornacchio was deployed to the Middle East, he found out that the items he stored away in a Massachusetts-based storage facility had been sold and auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Last week, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Lori Trahan (D-MA) introduced a bill to raise the existing punishment for companies who sell service members’ belongings.

If passed, this bill would hold storage facilities, towing companies or other offenders accountable for knowingly disposing the property of a servicemember without a court order by elevating the consequences to the level of a felony with fines and up to three years imprisonment. Currently, companies can be charged with a misdemeanor subject to fines and the possibility of up to one year imprisonment.  

“When servicemembers like Charles volunteer to leave everything behind and serve abroad, the last thing they should have to worry about is whether or not their belongings will be sold to the highest bidder,” said Congressman Moulton, the author of the bill. “Right now, companies like this one, consider the low risk of getting caught along with the fines and decide that the risks are worth it and that the fines are just a cost of doing business. This bill will raise the stakes to ensure that something like this never happens to our heroes again.”

“While our servicemembers risk their lives to defend us, separated from their communities and their loved ones, the least we can do is ensure they are treated with the respect they deserve,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “What happened to Sergeant Cornacchio is unacceptable, and he’s not the only one who has been wronged like this. I’m proud to partner with Congressman Moulton to introduce this legislation to strengthen the penalties under the Servicemember Civil Relief Act. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to do everything possible to prevent their belongings being sold out from underneath them while they’re risking their lives to protect our nation.”

Specifically, this bill updates section 3958 of 50 U.S. Code, which amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Passing this law will not only equip the Department of Justice with a broader range of tools to prosecute these cases, but also sends a strong deterrent message to current and would-be offenders that these schemes that prey on our servicemembers will not be tolerated.  

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