Stockton SWAT Raid Over Student Loans

JUNE 10, 2011


Editor’s note: This article was rewritten to reflect more recent information, which corrected some of what was reported.

The evidence that America now is a full-blown police state keeps pouring in. Governments short of revenue even are assaulting those with alleged school-loan problems.

In Stockton, original reports were that local police launched an assault on a man’s house, searching for his wife. Her offense: she didn’t make her federal student-loan payments.

Reported on Thursday (the link includes a video):

The resident, Kenneth Wright, does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe why what he thought was a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 in the morning.

“I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers,” Wright said.

As Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts, he said the officers barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

“He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there,” Wright said.

According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children, ages 3, 7, and 11, and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.

“They put me in handcuffs in that hot patrol car for six hours, traumatizing my kids,” Wright said.

Later Reports

However, later reports told a slightly different story. Reported

A California man who initially claimed to a local television station that he was roughed up by “SWAT team” members who allegedly battered down his front door to execute a search warrant related to his estranged wife’s unpaid student loans was targeted due to an ongoing probe into alleged financial aid fraud.

The search allowed for the seizure of any student financial aid documents, W2 forms and electronic communications….

One of Wright’s neighbors, a woman who identified herself only as Becky, saw the raid, which started at 6:45 a.m. and lasted until at least 10:45 a.m., she said.

“They surrounded the house; it was like a task force of SWAT team,” she told the station. “They all had guns. They dragged him out in his boxer shorts, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him.”

Multiple calls to a Stockton Police Department spokesman were not returned on Wednesday. According to ABC 10/KXTV, the Stockton Police Department said it was asked by federal agents to provide one officer and one patrol car for a police presence when executing the search warrant.

“All I want is an apology for me and my kids and for them to get me a new door,” Wright said.

It may be some days before the exact nature of what happened becomes clear. However, we do know already:

1. A raid occurred involving numerous heavily armed officers who assaulted Wright’s home as if he were a Taliban member in Afghanistan.

2. Given that he was not an armed criminal, only allegedly involved in a financial impropriety, the size and potency of the assault on his home was far in excess of what was necessary to arrest him. Just a few years ago, this situation would have been dealt with by plain close officers knocking on his door and issuing him a subpoena or a search warrant.

3. Governments at all levels refuse to disclose what really was going on even to respected members of the meida.


This raid also shows how the federal government now has completely taken over our lives. Localism is dead. A federal program that seems to most people to be benign, promoting learning and jobs skills, turns out to be another police-state enforcement agency. Maybe more people now will wish that President Ronald Reagan had fulfilled his 1980 campaign promise to complete abolish the U.S. Department of Education (De-Ed).

What America’s founders feared, that state and local governments would be dissolved into a gigantic edifice of oppression, has occurred — enforced even against alleged student loans improprieties.

It’s worth noting that student debt has gotten out of hand. Student debt is the latest “asset bubble” that soon could burst, following the real-estate debt bubble, which burst in the mid-2000s, and the dot-com bubble, which burst in 1999.

Too many kids go to school for too many worthless degrees. They waste four or more years that they could use building a career and piling up experience and savings, but instead end up with a pointless diploma and a mountain of debt.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

When Michelle Bisutti, a 41-year-old family practitioner in Columbus, Ohio, finished medical school in 2003, her student-loan debt amounted to roughly $250,000. Since then, it has ballooned to $555,000.

It is the result of her deferring loan payments while she completed her residency, default charges and relentlessly compounding interest rates. Among the charges: a single $53,870 fee for when her loan was turned over to a collection agency.

“Maybe half of it was my fault because I didn’t look at the fine print,” Dr. Bisutti says. “But this is just outrageous now.”

Let’s note that number: $550,000. That’s not a home loan that you might pay off over 30 years while you live in the place. It’s an unsecured loan. And there’s worse:

Unlike other kinds of debt, student loans can be particularly hard to wriggle out of. Homeowners who can’t make their mortgage payments can hand over the keys to their house to their lender. Credit-card and even gambling debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. But ditching a student loan is virtually impossible, especially once a collection agency gets involved. Although lenders may trim payments, getting fees or principals waived seldom happens.

One of the reasons America’s economy developed rapidly was because people could go bankrupt. They could make mistakes and start over. By contrast, in Europe, even to this day, it’s hard to get out of bad debts. You effectively become an indentured servant, a slave, to the banks.

Now the same has happened in America to federal-backed loans to students. You become the government’s slave — for your whole life. Because unless you win the lottery, there’s no way you can pay back that $550,000 loan. The education you thought would free you into a life of a well-paying, interesting vocation, instead enslaves you.

And could bring a SWAT team barging into your home, guns pointed at your nose.






Write a comment
  1. Joe
    Joe 9 June, 2011, 10:26

    I’m not sure what this article is about… Federalism? Local police doing the Feds work? Student loans being evil? A lesson on why debt is bad in general? This peice is like reading a lecture… And, to make things worse, it is all over the place.

    Btw, the reason it is hard to discharge is because student loans are backed by the government. You can still get a private student loan that you CAN discharge. But the prob is most students have crap for credit… So the gov backs it and the banks lend it.

    Reply this comment
  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 9 June, 2011, 14:03

    What exactly were the SWAT officers searching for in Wright’s house? She owes money to the government on a government-backed loan – not the local loan shark. Did they expect to find a cache of money to pay off the debt?

    This is terrifying and an outrage. It will be interesting to see if Wright’s Congressman, Senator, or state legislators intervene on her behalf – especially since there is a special student loan program for federal employees, and even cases of forgiveness of loans to Congressional staffers.

    – Katy

    Reply this comment
  3. DA
    DA 9 June, 2011, 14:13

    Have you checked all your facts on this one? There’s got to be more to this situation. Nobody in their right mind would send a SWAT team to collect a loan or merely because someone didn’t make their payments. My best guess is that the government won a judgment in court against the woman, and was now seizing her property as an asset forfeiture. But that’s just a guess. You don’t seem to know either.

    And this was all such a mystery to the husband. Yeah, right.

    By the way, just how much did the woman owe, and exactly how much had she paid back. I’ll bet the answer to the first question is “quite a lot”, and the answer to the second is “not very much”. You don’t seem to know that either.

    Another head scratcher; Did you check to see if the officers “barged through the front door” without a warrant? I’ll bet you didn’t. Just for your future reference, those warrant documents actually spell out the reasons why such a search is being conducted and the manner and method in which the search must be reasonably carried out. And at the bottom will be the name of the judge that authorized such a search.

    Maybe you can check that out, and get back to us later.

    Reply this comment
  4. Tylerle13
    Tylerle13 10 June, 2011, 15:49

    DA, I’m confused, you tell the author to “Check their facts”, then you proceed to throw out wild speculation about every single aspect of the story, which are all based on broad generalizations of your understanding of the legal system, the knowledge a husband has about his ESTRANGED WIFE’s criminal activity, the balance of the student loan account, what was included in a search warrent, and the procedural actions of 15 Department of Education “SWAT Team” members? Normally if your going try to dispute the factual accuracy of a story, you should bring FACTS to the argument, not a laundry list of speculation.


    The fact that your default stance is to challenge the accuracy of the facts of the story(while having no facts of your own), rather than question why the Dept of EDUCATION has a SWAT TEAM OR why that SWAT TEAM will organize an ARMED RAID because of LOAN DEFAULT, is frightening. Its thought processes like yours that have led to Flunky TSA Agents Molesting our Children in the name of Security Theatre.

    Please do the USA a favor… Dont vote… ever

    Reply this comment
  5. DA
    DA 11 June, 2011, 13:04

    Yes Tylerle, it is obvious that you are very confused. That’s what happens to readers when “journalists” draw dire conclusions without first checking their facts. The person who wrote this article either knows nothing about the criminal justice system, has no common sense, no ability to look further when something smells fishy, no reporter’s curiosity, or is simply more concerned with pushing his own personal agenda, and let the facts be damned. The answer is any or all of the above.

    This is reminiscent of the old Saturday Night Live character, Emily Lutella who was always outraged based upon a total misconception of the actual facts. It seems likely that the writer is now probably known among his colleagues as Mr. Lutella.

    If you remember,Tylerle, the alleged primary fact in the first article was the assertion that big, bad Stockton stormtrooper types conducted a major police operation against some poor defenseless woman because she either couldn’t or didn’t make payments on her student loan. What reasonable person wouldn’t be outraged and concerned about such a state of affairs?

    Except it wasn’t true.

    Now we get a “corrected” version, and the same writer is still sticking to his guns in the questionable premise that an investigation involving major criminal fraud is the same thing as going after a defenseless loan defaulter. Well it’s not! That story never would have grabbed your attention nor lead you to believe the sky was falling.

    Reply this comment
  6. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 11 June, 2011, 16:48

    There is a Bigger Story to Stockton SWAT Raid

    By Wayne Lusvardi

    As recently pointed out by no less than eminent sociologist Peter Berger “symbols of tyranny” are on the rise in America such as the body pat downs at airports, the legal “degradation rituals” of putting criminal suspects through a “perp walk” even though there is supposedly a presumption of innocence, the revival of old fashioned “chain gang” prisoner work crews, and the arrangements of Congressional hearings where the interrogators sit on raised platforms over the “serfs” who are summoned to appear before them. Link:

    Of greater concern are the reported tragic cases of SWAT team raids where nervous police have targeted the wrong person and ended up killing them.

    But the recent report at is also symbolic of a widespread paranoia initially triggered by liberal-tabloid TV broadcast media that spreads virally through both Right and Left-wing websites without any fact checking on the truth.

    Let’s take a look at the case in Stockton, California where KXTV Channel 10 in Sacramento initially reported that a local police SWAT Team had raided a home purportedly because the “estranged wife” of the male occupant of a home had failed to pay student loans.

    First, I called the Stockton PD and they told me they only had a backup “black and white” unit at the scene and that the raid was conducted by theFederal Office of Inspector General (OIG) acting on a search warrant. The Stockton PD public affairs officers told me that an unpaid student loan would be a civil, not criminal, matter and would not ever trigger a police raid on a home.

    I checked online and KXTV had already issued a correction on their online webpage indicating that the raid was not by the Stockton Police but they stuck to their erroneous story about an unpaid student loan as the legal grounds for the raid.

    I then found online the actual Search Warrant issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows on June 3. Link:

    I had a retired prosecutor friend of mine look at the warrant. Here is what he indicated. He noted that the Search Warrant is missing the statement of the Affiant (officer who describes the basis for why the warrant is necessary). This statement should include a factual rundown of the alleged criminal activity, how the activity was executed, and why the criminal activity is reasonably ties to the suspect, etc.

    Later, the Inspector General’s Office released a statement that the raid did not involve a mere unpaid student loan but a case involving student aid “fraud, bribery and embezzlement.” 

This squared with what both the Stockton PD and my prosecutor friend told me. He said that his reading of the warrant and his experience suggests that the suspect was using phony I.D.’s and documents to obtain a large number of student loans. “The total amount of the student loans obtained probably constitutes a very significant amount of money, which is what triggered such a major response for serving the warrant,” my source said. He added that it is “just a guess, but I’ll bet the figure is in the millions. It also may be part of a larger ring.”

    My prosecutor source also said he doubted whether you could find a judge anywhere that would issue a “no knock” search warrant on a civil matter of an unpaid student loan, which would be a violation of the 4th Amendment against illegal searches and seizures.

    The alleged female defendant in this case was not at home at 6 a.m. and no one reported whether she had fled, been detained and was being held in jail, or had failed to appear or produce records in response to a bench warrant. It later was reported in the media that the alleged victim of the raid, a male ex-spouse, was also named as a suspect in the case.

    Coincidentally, I also found online that on June 8 in South Carolina a different woman had pled guilty to student loan fraud she had pulled off while an inmate at the Leath Correctional Institute in Greenville, South Carolina. She used phony I.D.’s to apply for 23 student loans totaling $467,500 while working as an inmate in the educational department of the prison. Link:

    Apparently under the Obama Administration, student loans are so easy to apply for if you use a false ID that it is being used as a form of welfare. My guess is that there is a widespread informal criminal network a la ACORN involved with the Internet being the facilitator both with how to apply for student loans and how to pull the crime off.

    Coming back to the situation in Stockton, it is now apparent that the raid involved gathering information about stolen ID’s used to obtain fraudulent student loans. The media story about a raid aid on an ex-spouses home for unpaid student loans was in error. And the so-declared victim boyfriend was an apparent accomplice in this case. How much more could you get wrong in a news story? 

    The initial media story of the Stockton SWAT raid was overblown but was great “news” for a slow TV news day. It resonated with a fearful audience overloaded with debts. 

I followed up on the story and could not find one media source that has come out with the true context of the SWAT raid in Stockton. 

    In a scene from some sort of parallel universe, coincidentally a Florida couple that had erroneously had their house foreclosed on by a bank were able to secure a court judgment to “raid” branch of the Bank of America to seize furniture, computers and cash on the premises to recover their legal fees. The legal system in the U.S. isn’t entirely broken or corrupted.

    There is a bigger story here about institutional corruption that breeds both loan fraud and police raids, albeit legal. What the Stockton SWAT case reflects is the metastasizing of a government loan program into what political scientist Walter Russell Mead calls a Great White Hope, then into a Great White Father, then into a Great White Elephant, and finally a Great White Shark. At the “shark” stage of such government programs they turn criminal and deadly. Link:

    Loan recipients turn into criminal plunderers of the system and those that administer the program have to turn into police or hire paramilitary units to keep the criminality in check. But the criminality is so widespread that they mainly focus on only the most flagrant violators involving the largest sums of money.

    This is reminiscent of what we just experienced with the sub-prime loan scandal and Bank Panic of 2008, only with foreclosures instead of police raids. There is an institutional basis to both. This is what we can expect with Obamacare.

    Here we seem to be facing what historian Klaus Bringmann describes in his book A History of the Roman Republic where free distribution of grain hastened the collapse of the empire.

    Reply this comment
  7. Tylerle13
    Tylerle13 11 June, 2011, 23:17

    DA your way off. This author was not the only person reporting this story, it has been everywhere in the news (TV, Radio, print, etc) all over the Bay Area for the last week, so you cannot accuse this author of trying to fabricate or sensationalize the story for their own gain without making the same accusation to a number of other Bay Area news sources.

    This “Alleged Primary fact” that you Mentioned is not what was being reported, so I think you totally missed the mark in your perception of the story. The Woman in question was not at the home they raided. She was estranged, so it was only her (ex)husband & 3 young children. They forcibly detained the man, then kept him cuffed in a cop car for hours, as well as his 3 children. None of them had anything to do with any loan fraud.

    The warrant that was being executed was for Student Loan Fraud, which is simply a white collar non-violent crime. In no way does this crime justify an all out 15 member SWAT Team raid. There have been CEOs (and many other people) who have committed much more heinous crimes & stolen more money, yet they are allowed to negotiate when they have to show up to jail, they don’t get extracted from their homes by a SWAT operation. Among other problems with their actions, the SWAT involvement was inappropriate & was a prime example of overkill.

    Aside from the other facts of the story, there is absolutely no reason that the Department of Education should ever have their own Police Force, let alone a tactical unit. There are already a number of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies that could have taken care of this matter with 1-2 officers, not a small army. There is no need to create redundant & inefficient agencies within every single branch of government, all this does is waste taxpayer money and create yet another overbearing buracracy that citizens have to put up with.

    It sounds like your more interested in trying to discredit the author for some reason instead of paying attention to the outrageous actions of the government that have caused this story to be picked up by dozens of other news sources.

    Reply this comment
  8. Nick McCray
    Nick McCray 29 October, 2013, 09:12

    It seems to me that DA suffers from desensitization of police and federal overkill. It doesn’t strike him as out of the ordinary or obscene for three children to go through such a traumatizing experience. It doesn’t seem wasteful to him to pay fifteen men who all make 6 figure incomes per year to perform this operation when it could have been performed by 2 men. DA= district attorney? Go figure, if that’s what you do then you prosecute people for a living. Enough said.

    Reply this comment
  9. Desi51
    Desi51 29 January, 2015, 03:38

    As with so many of these types of stories, there was way more to it than originally portrayed. Just Google Michelle Wright Student Loan Fraud. This woman (and her husband) was running a student loan fraud ring involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal money. These were criminals, and the police don’t know how dangerous a criminal is until you serve the warrant. Clearly, this wasn’t some innocent guy whose wife defaulted on a student loan. It’s organized crime on a small scale.

    Reply this comment

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