The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing a Massachusetts storage company of illegally selling the possessions of an Air Force sergeant - including his grandfather's medals - while he was deployed.
Father & Son Moving & Storage broke the law by failing to obtain a court order before auctioning everything in the technical sergeant's storage units while he was serving in Qatar, officials say.
Father & Son had sent mail indicating that the man owed money to his previous address at Hanscom Air Force Base, but he didn't get it in Qatar until almost a month after his possessions had been sold, the lawsuit says.
The items sold include mementos that belonged to a cousin who was killed while serving in the military, his grandfather's medals, a dresser handmade by his great-grandfather and personal photographs, the lawsuit says.
"This servicemember was called overseas to serve our country and returned home to find his personal possessions, family heirlooms and military awards auctioned off to the highest bidder," Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in an emailed statement. "That is unacceptable."
Prosecutors are seeking damages for the man, a civil penalty, and an order barring the company from illegally auctioning military members' possessions in the future.
A phone message seeking comment was left with a company employee.