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Justices agree to hear dispute over gamblers' seized money

The U.S. Supreme Court building seen in Washington May 20, 2009. REUTERS/Molly Riley
The U.S. Supreme Court building seen in Washington May 20, 2009. REUTERS/Molly Riley

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to consider whether two professional gamblers can pursue a lawsuit against a Drug Enforcement Administration officer after their winnings were confiscated by him at an airport.

On August 8, 2006, Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson were switching planes in Atlanta following a gambling trip when they were detained by several DEA agents. The gamblers were carrying a total of $97,000 in cash.

The agents - including Anthony Walden, the only one identified by name and the only one involved in the Supreme Court case - seized the cash based on the suspicion that it may have been connected to drug transactions.

Fiore and Gipson later sued Walden and the other, unidentified agents in federal court in Nevada, claiming their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures had been violated.

Their winnings were eventually returned.

The legal issue in the case is whether the Nevada court had jurisdiction to hear a case that solely concerned conduct that took place in Georgia. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the gamblers.

A decision is expected in the court's next term, which begins in October and runs until June 2014.

The case is Walden v. Fiore, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-574.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller)

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