Category: Asset Forfeiture


IRS Caught Violating Its Own Civil Forfeiture Policy;  U.S. Attorney Admonishes Small Business Owner To Keep His Mouth Shut

 

 

 

” Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart, a gas station, restaurant and convenience store in rural Fairmont, North Carolina. Then, almost one year ago, agents from the IRS came to the store and announced that they had seized his entire bank account, totaling more than $107,000.

  Lyndon did nothing wrong, and the IRS has never alleged that he committed a crime—much less charged him with one. Despite this, in December 2014, the IRS and Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil forfeiture complaint in federal court, which, if successful, would allow them to keep Lyndon’s money permanently. The DOJ’s actions came months after the IRS announced a formal policy change prohibiting the agency from using civil forfeiture to take money from law-abiding citizens like Lyndon.

  Yesterday, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a national public interest law firm leading the fight to end civil forfeiture, filed court documents contesting the IRS’s forfeiture of Lyndon’s money.

“ This case demonstrates that the federal government’s recent reforms are riddled with loopholes and exceptions and fundamentally fail to protect Americans’ basic rights,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Robert Everett Johnson, who represents Lyndon. “No American should have his property taken by the government without first being convicted of a crime.”

  In February 2015, during a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee, North Carolina Congressman George Holding told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that he had reviewed Lyndon’s case—without specifically naming it—and that there was no allegation of the kind of illegal activity required by the IRS’s new policy. The IRS Commissioner responded, “If that cases exists, then it’s not following the policy.” “

 

Institute For Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Iowa Forfeiture: A ‘System Of Legal Thievery’?

 

 

 

 

 

The plan: Hitch a ride with a family friend to California, visit relatives and check out community colleges there.

  Sanchez-Ratliff, then 20, did something that in hindsight wasn’t the best idea, but isn’t illegal. He took with him his entire life savings, including about $14,000 provided by his grandmother and an additional $5,000 he had saved from working.”

 

 

 

” The much-anticipated trip took an unexpected turn about eight hours in, as flashing lights appeared in the rear-view mirror. A Pottawattamie County sheriff’s deputy stopped the vehicle for traveling 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.

  An hour later, the deputy seized Sanchez-Ratliff’s cash. Despite a clean criminal record and a search that turned up no sign of drugs or other illegal activity, the deputy concluded the money must somehow be linked to a crime.

  Sanchez-Ratliff is hardly alone.”

 

 

The Register continues …

 

 

” A Des Moines Register investigation into the use of state and federal civil forfeiture laws in Iowa reveals that thousands of people have surrendered their cash or property since 2009. The system is stacked against property owners while raising millions of dollars annually for law enforcement agencies across the state, something critics contend encourages policing for profit over promoting public safety.

  The bulk of forfeitures reviewed by the Register resulted from traffic stops, often for minor violations and involving vehicles with out-of-state plates. But cash or property also was seized after police were called or sent to homes or businesses. In a few cases, police seized cash carried by johns caught up in prostitution stings.

  Among the Register’s findings:

• Law enforcement agencies in all but seven of Iowa’s 99 counties have used the state’s civil forfeiture law since 2009. They have seized cash or other property 5,265 times. At least 542 more cases have used federal forfeiture laws.

• Many of those property owners — including Sanchez-Ratliff — are sent on their way after surrendering their cash or other property. A sampling of about 600 forfeiture cases from the Iowa counties that seized the most property over the past six years revealed dozens of instances with no record of an arrest or criminal charges.

• Iowa police departments and other law enforcement agencies have seized nearly $43 million over the past six years — money divided among agencies involved in each forfeiture case. Under law, the money is supposed to be used to “enhance” their crime-fighting capabilities.

• Most of the money is used to buy equipment, train officers and fund multiagency task forces. But it also has been spent on tropical fish, scented candles, mulch and other items that appear to have little or no direct link to law enforcement activities.

  Local law enforcement agencies generally keep 90 percent of forfeited cash, split among the agencies that seized the property. The rest goes to the state, for use by the Iowa Attorney General’s office and the state’s public safety departments.”

 

 

    The Des Moines Register offers a serious investigation into the blatantly unconstitutional process of stripping law abiding citizens of their money and possessions without due process , otherwise known as “civil” asset forfeiture . Read the whole thing and remember this is not an issue limited to Iowa , your state is doing it too .

Civil asset forfeiture reform now . Every “war” results in a loss of freedoms but none so much as the “war on drugs” .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Police Revenue Streams Are More Outrageous Than Others

 

 

 

 

 

” There has been a lot of news out of Ferguson lately.

  You had the release of the Justice Department report that, while clearing officer Wilson and debunking “Hands up don’t shoot,” hit the police department for racial practices which led to protests, resignations, the shooting of two police officers and, last  weekend, the arrest of Jeffrey Williams, the shooter.

  But in all the news coverage, protests, and resulting spin, there is one aspect of this story that, for several reasons, is worthy of a lot more attention before it’s forgotten:  the outrageous use of policing as a city revenue stream.

 

   From the report:

  The City’s emphasis on revenue generation has a profound effect on FPD’s approach to law enforcement.  Patrol assignment an schedules are geared toward aggressive enforcement of Ferguson’s municipal code, with insufficient thought given to whether enforcement strategies promote public safety or unnecessarily undermine community trust and cooperation.

 

  This practice sets up a perverse reward system if you are a cop, the report explained:

  Officer evaluations and promotions depend to an inordinate degree on “productivity” meaning the number of citations issued.

 

  And the courts aren’t helping either:

  The municipal court does not act as a neutral arbiter of the law or a check on unlawful police conduct.  Instead the court primarily uses its judicial authority as the means to compel the payment of fines and fees that advance the City’s financial interests.

 

  This is not a new issue to some. Rand Paul,for example, has talked about it for a while, most recently at Bowe state university in Maryland: “

 

Read more from DaTechGuy at Watchdog.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man Acquitted Of Crime, Cops Still Take His Cash

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Iowa State troopers can keep more than $30,000 in cash taken during a traffic stop, even though the owner was found not guilty, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled last week.

  In June 2012, Robert Pardee was riding in a car through Powesheik County, Iowa on I-80, when an Iowa State trooper pulled the driver over for a non-working taillight and tailgating. During the stop, state troopers found “a small amount of marijuana” and $33,100 in cash. Pardee was arrested and charged with possessing cannabis. In Iowa, first-time offenders can face up to six months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.

  One year later, a district court found him not guilty. As the criminal case proceeded against Pardee, the state also filed a civil forfeiture case against his seized cash. Despite his acquittal, first the district court and then the Iowa Court of Appeals ordered Pardee to forfeit his cash to the state.

  Unlike criminal forfeiture, which does require a conviction to take the ill-gotten gains from criminals, civil forfeiture lets law enforcement seize and keep property from people without a criminal conviction, or even without filing charges.

  Since civil forfeiture cases proceed in civil court, the state has to meet a far lower burden of proof to win. While criminal cases require proving “beyond a reasonable doubt,” for civil forfeiture in Iowa, the government need only show by a “preponderance of the evidence,” or “more likely than not,” that property was used to help facilitate a crime or are the proceeds of crime.”

 

 

    Could anything possibly be more unAmerican than “civil” asset forfeiture ? It is nothing more that legalized theft and constitutes an arbitrary abuse of power , totally ignores the rule of law and demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are well on our way to tyranny . The Founders must be rolling in their graves .

Surely this case deserves to be taken all the way to the Supreme Court … Read the rest at Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bombshell Interview: Cop Reveals That “Planting Evidence And Lying” Are Just “Part Of The Game”

 

 

 

” Journalists at the DC Post were looking through message boards that are frequented by law enforcement officers, when they found a post where one officer was causally talking about planting evidence on “mouthy drivers” and “street lawyers.”

  The Post then contacted the officer and conducted an anonymous interview with him where he revealed his disturbing perspective.

  The officer revealed the illegal and unethical actions that he is proud of taking on the job. The DC Post has also said that they have verified the officer’s position with the Palm Beach County police department, and they have verified many of the claims that he has made.

  The original post was titled “Tricks of the trade – let’s exchange!” and featured the following message:

“ I have a method for getting people off the street that should not be there. Mouthy drivers, street lawyers, assholes and just anyone else trying to make my job difficult. Under my floor mat, I keep a small plastic dime baggie with Cocaine in residue. Since it’s just residue, if it is ever found during a search of my car like during an inspection, it’s easy enough to explain. It must have stuck to my foot while walking through San Castle. Anyways, no one’s going to question an empty baggie. The residue is the key because you can fully charge some asshole with possession of cocaine, heroin, or whatever just with the residue. How to get it done? “I asked Mr. DOE for his identification. And he pulled out his wallet, I observed a small plastic baggie fall out of his pocket…” You get the idea. easy, right? Best part is, those baggies can be found lots of places so you can always be ready. Don’t forget to wipe the baggie on the person’s skin after you arrest them because you want their DNA on the bag if they say you planted it or fight it in court.”  “

 

 

Read more about this disgusting admission at The Free Thought Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Charges Iowa Widow Over How She Deposited Husband’s Cash

 

 

 

” An Iowa widow is charged with a crime and had nearly $19,000 seized from her bank after depositing her late husband’s legally earned money in a way that evaded federal reporting requirements.

  Janet Malone, 68, of Dubuque, is facing civil and criminal proceedings under a law intended to help investigators track large sums of cash tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorism. But some members of Congress and libertarian groups have complained that the IRS and federal prosecutors are unfairly using it against ordinary people who deposit lawfully obtained money in increments below $10,000.

  At issue is a law requiring banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 cash to the federal government. Anyone who breaks deposits into increments below that level to avoid the requirement is committing a crime known as “structuring” — whether their money is legal or not.

  The IRS has increasingly used civil forfeiture proceedings to seize money from individuals and small businesses suspected of structuring violations, according to a review by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group. The agency seized $242 million in 2,500 cases from 2005 to 2012 — a third of which arose from nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000. Nearly half was returned after owners challenged the action, often a year later.”

 

Story continues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Police No Longer Work For You

 

 

 

 

 

 

” To the casual observer it appears that Virginia is run by violent psychopaths. That’s the takeaway from the recent report of an anti-poker SWAT team raid in Fairfax County, in which eight assault rifle-sporting police officers moved against ten card-playing civilians. The police possibly seized more than $200,000 from the game, of which 40 percent they eventually kept.

  There was no indication that any of the players was armed. As a matter of fact, it appears that a gambler is more likely to be shot without provocation by the Fairfax Police than the other way around. The heavy firepower at the Fairfax raid was apparently motivated by the fact that “at times, illegal weapons are present” at such poker games, and that “Asian gangs” have allegedly targeted such events in the past. This is, then, a novel approach to law enforcement: as a matter of policy, Fairfax police now attempt to rob and steal from people before street gangs get around to doing it.

  It is a mystery why we put up with this obscene police behavior. Gambling itself is not illegal in Virginia; it is simply controlled by the state. So the Fairfax police department did not bust these hapless poker players with guns drawn for doing something truly immoral and fully outlawed, merely for doing something in a way not approved by the state legislature. Were gambling actually forbidden in Virginia, then a crackdown could at least be understood, if not condoned in so paramilitary a fashion. Yet Virginia’s stance on the matter is not to treat gambling as malum in se, but rather as an instrumentum regni: our government prefers to funnel gambling money into its own coffers for its own ends, outlaw the same thing when it’s done outside of the state’s jurisdiction, and then steal the money of the poor fellows who happen to get caught. “

 

 

    Civil asset forfeiture , or policing for profit , is one of the defining issues of our day and along with No-Knock raids have eroded our liberties in ways the Founders never dreamed possible .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients

 

 

 

” Lillian Palermo tried to prepare for the worst possibilities of aging. An insurance executive with a Ph.D. in psychology and a love of ballroom dancing, she arranged for her power of attorney and health care proxy to go to her husband, Dino, eight years her junior, if she became incapacitated. And in her 80s, she did.

  Mr. Palermo, who was the lead singer in a Midtown nightclub in the 1960s when her elegant tango first caught his eye, now regularly rolls his wife’s wheelchair to the piano at the Catholic nursing home in Manhattan where she ended up in 2010 as dementia, falls and surgical complications took their toll. He sings her favorite songs, feeds her home-cooked Italian food, and pays a private aide to be there when he cannot.

  But one day last summer, after he disputed nursing home bills that had suddenly doubled Mrs. Palermo’s copays, and complained about inexperienced employees who dropped his wife on the floor, Mr. Palermo was shocked to find a six-page legal document waiting on her bed.

  It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

  Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step. Guardianship cases are difficult to gain access to and poorly tracked by New York State courts; cases are often closed from public view for confidentiality. But the Palermo case is no aberration. Interviews with veterans of the system and a review of guardianship court data conducted by researchers at Hunter College at the request of The New York Times show the practice has become routine, underscoring the growing power nursing homes wield over residents and families amid changes in the financing of long-term care.

  In a random, anonymized sample of 700 guardianship cases filed in Manhattan over a decade, Hunter College researchers found more than 12 percent were brought by nursing homes. Some of these may have been prompted by family feuds, suspected embezzlement or just the absence of relatives to help secure Medicaid coverage. But lawyers and others versed in the guardianship process agree that nursing homes primarily use such petitions as a means of bill collection — a purpose never intended by the Legislature when it enacted the guardianship statute in 1993.

  At least one judge has ruled that the tactic by nursing homes is an abuse of the law, but the petitions, even if they are ultimately unsuccessful, force families into costly legal ordeals.”

     Before you commit your loved one to a nursing home/elder care facility be sure to read this entire piece from the NY Times . This is a shameful abuse of the law , no different than “civil asset forfeiture” .

DC Police Department Budgets Its Asset Forfeiture Proceeds Years In Advance

 

 

 

 

” Asset forfeiture may be the greatest scam perpetuated on the American people by their government — and it’s all legal. For the most part, assets seized translate directly to monetary or physical gains for the agencies doing the seizing, an act often wholly separated from any American ideals of due process.

  The New York Times recently obtained recording of asset forfeiture conferences which showed prosecutors advising cops on how to best exploit these programs to obtain additional funds and goods for their respective law enforcement agencies. In short, it appears that many agencies use asset forfeiture to fill departmental shopping lists, rather than as the criminal syndicate-crippling action it was intended to be.

  The Washington Post has been digging into the oft-abused programs for the last six weeks. The latest article in this series comes to similar conclusions about how the programs are viewed by law enforcement agencies.

  D.C. police have made plans for millions of dollars in anticipated proceeds from future civil seizures of cash and property, even though federal guidelines say “agencies may not commit” to such spending in advance, documents show.

  The city’s proposed budget and financial plan for fiscal 2015 includes about $2.7 million for the District police department’s “special purpose fund” through 2018. The fund covers payments for informants and rewards. “

TechDirt has more on this grand scheme of legalized theft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Video 11.28.14

Inside Civil Asset Forfeiture

 

 

 

Published on Nov 23, 2014

” Civil asset forfeiture means the confiscation of property by the government when it considers it a civil rather than a criminal case. Seizure occurs when the government takes property. Forfeiture means the legal title is transferred to the government. Assistant Prosecutor Sean McMurtry explains how police departments profit from civil asset forfeiture. He shares various tactics that allow government to seize citizen property even in the absence of criminal charges. http://www.LibertyPen.com “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennessee DA Restricts Use Of Civil Forfeiture Laws

 

 

Tennessee Asset Forfeiture Reform

 

 

 

” An agency at the center of NewsChannel 5’s “Policing for Profit” investigation has severely restricted the use of civil forfeiture laws that had been used to seize cash from drivers passing through Tennessee.

  Instead, the new boss of the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force said he wants officers to re-emphasize their primary mission of looking for drugs.

  For more than three years, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has shined the light on laws that let police take cash from drivers without charging them with a crime.

  Critics called it “highway robbery.”

I don’t want the public to believe that we are out there trying to just take money from innocent people,” said District Attorney General Ray Crouch. “That is not what we are going to do. I am not going to be part of that.

  It marks the first time that a Tennessee district attorney has publicly rejected the broad use of the civil forfeiture laws that have drawn national attention. For the past several years, the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference has lobbied lawmakers to preserve that source of money.

” I want the public to know that they do not have to be in fear of the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force seizing their personal property, their cash, their assets,” Crouch toldNewsChannel 5 Investigates. “

 

More at JRN.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Boasts Having Seized $904 Million Through Asset Forfeitures In 2013 Alone

 

 

 

” Civil asset forfeiture is a controversial policy in which the government seizes private property that it believes was either gained through the commission of a crime or used to commit one. However, the items being seized sometimes belong to someone who was never accused of a crime at all or people who later turn out to be completely innocent. Since a civil process is used to seize the items in question, individuals facing the loss of property do so without the benefit of the level of due process that would ordinarily be afforded a criminal defendant.

  The Washington Post notes that, under President Obama, civil asset forfeitures have doubled. Now, as Eric Holder steps aside as US Attorney General, his potential replacement, nominee and US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, recently announced that her office seized over $904 million in asset forfeitures in 2013 alone.

  According to a quote from The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, “As a prosecutor Ms. Lynch has also been aggressive in pursuing civil asset forfeiture, which has become a form of policing for profit. She recently announced that her office had collected more than $904 million in criminal and civil actions in fiscal 2013, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.” The editorial calls for senators to ask questions in an effort to clarify Lynch’s views on the controversial policy. “

 

Ben Swann has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets To Seize

 

 

 

 

 

 

” The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.

  In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.” And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar.

“ A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol. And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’ ”

  Mr. Connelly was talking about a practice known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows the government, without ever securing a conviction or even filing a criminal charge, to seize property suspected of having ties to crime. The practice, expanded during the war on drugs in the 1980s, has become a staple of law enforcement agencies because it helps finance their work. It is difficult to tell how much has been seized by state and local law enforcement, but under a Justice Department program, the value of assets seized has ballooned to $4.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year from $407 million in 2001. Much of that money is shared with local police forces. “

   NY Times offers that story on police departments and their wish lists for asset forfeiture while BuzzFeed has a piece that dovetails nicely with it … “If In Doubt , Take It” … below is an excerpt :

There are three kinds of people in this world: Those who’re outraged by civil forfeiture, those who don’t know what it is and those who profit from it

  Without even needing to charge someone with a crime, law enforcement can seize and keep cash, cars and even homes, by exercising civil forfeiture. Now the Institute for Justice has uncovered recordings of government officials from across the country making unsettling comments about this controversial power:

• One city attorney called his legal documents a “masterpiece of deception” and has won 96 percent of his forfeiture cases.
• An assistant district attorney takes property, even from owners who have been acquitted, because “people are not found innocent, they are found not guilty.”
• One government official doesn’t want to disclose information about civil forfeiture, because it might become a “bullet-point for people that are trying to fight the program.”
• A prosecutor teaches other attorneys how to take property from innocent people. He even offers this piece of advice, “IF IN DOUBT…TAKE IT!” 

Speaking at a forfeiture conference on September 10, 2014, Pete Connelly, City Attorney for Las Cruces, New Mexico, detailed his plan that would let police take the homes of people caught with tiny amounts of marijuana, even in states where the plant is legal:

“ I got to thinking this morning, in the paper that everybody is running around liberalizing marijuana or thinking about it. Putting it on the ballot. Taking it off the ballot. And I thought, boy, what a trap. You liberalize marijuana so somebody can sell it, they sell the marijuana out of the house, then you seize the house, which is like 10 bucks of marijuana and you [the police] get a $300,000 house. What a deal. That’s really exciting. They get what they want, and you get what you want. And the title of that article in the [Wall Street] Journal was ‘What’s Yours Is Theirs.’ I want to turn it around as ‘What’s Theirs is Yours.’” “

 

 

 

   Be sure to read them both and funnel your outrage towards your nearest GOP representative . Demand that they eliminate the policy of legalized theft otherwise known as “Civil asset forfeiture” .

   Defending the practice of seizing property from American citizens who have not only not been convicted of a crime , but in most cases not even charged , is an impossible task and we would welcome any effort by the incoming congressional Republicans to put their Statist opponents on the other side of the aisle on the spot with a vote to abolish this plainly unconstitutional law .

How Asset Forfeiture Allows Cops To Steal From Citizens

 

 

 

 

” It probably seemed like a bright idea at the time: Let the police seize the ill-gotten gains of alleged drug dealers and other suspected criminals and sell it, using the proceeds to buy much-needed crime-fighting gear.

  Unfortunately, the process—civil asset forfeiture—did not require convicting anybody of a crime. In fact, it didn’t even require charging anybody with a crime. Not surprisingly, this led to rampant abuse, which has been abundantly documented for many years. Various reform efforts, including a 2000 federal law, have been unable to stop what’s become known as policing for profit.

  But Virginia lawmaker Mark Cole is going to give it another shot. That’s as good a sign as any that civil asset forfeiture has jumped the shark. “

 

 

  We wish Mr Cole good luck . Legalized theft , aka civil asset forfeiture , is an abuse that is completely incompatible with the spirit of America as well as being blatantly unconstitutional .

 

Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Oliver Strikes Again

 

 

 

” It does seem to me that John Oliver is in the process of inventing some interesting new kind of political/social commentary – the 20-minute single-issue rant that is both hilariously funny, well put-together, and often quite devastatingly effective, as argument.  I find that when he deals with something I happen to know something about — net neutrality, say, or the governance of FIFA, or the so-called right to be forgotten” — he gets to the heart of the matter pretty quickly, and that’s not something I often find to be true, and it’s not an easy thing to do (though of course, like all good performers, he makes it look easy).  He is quite good at isolating the outrageous and then looping us for a while around the slippery slopes that surround it, and then bringing the conversation back to another bit of outrageousness and doing it again.  It’s like an amusement park ride, but it has an argumentative purpose.   There’s a line between simplifying (which he does, brilliantly) and over-simplifying (which I find he generally does not do), and it’s a very hard one to walk, and he does it quite well. “

Washington Post

 For The Record: “Seized”

 

 

Published on Sep 29, 2014

” A little known law that allows the IRS and law enforcement to empty bank accounts and seize personal property without warning or proof of a crime.

  Could you be their next target? Find on Wednesday’s episode of For the Record at 8PM ET.

  Watch full episodes of For The Record on demand with a subscription to TheBlaze TV:http://theblaze.com/fortherecord “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iowa Troopers Steal $100,000 In Poker Winnings From Two Players Driving Through The State

 

 

 

 

 

” The Des Moines Register highlights an Iowa forfeiture case, the subject of a federal lawsuit filed this week, in which state troopers took $100,000 in winnings from two California poker players traveling through the state on their way back from a World Series of Poker event in Joliet, Illinois. The case illustrates several of the themes I discussed in a recent column explaining how cops became highway robbers:

  Cops can always find an excuse to stop you. On the morning of April 15, 2013, Trooper Justin Simmons, who is part of an “interdiction team” that looks for contraband and money to seize, pulled over William Davis and John Newmer­zhycky, who were traveling west on Interstate 80 in a rental car, a red Nissan Altima. Simmons later said he had received a vague tip from “an Illinois law enforcement officer” to be on the lookout for a red car, but he did not know why. Obviously that did not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion, which Simmons needed to stop the car. So instead he claimed that he pulled Davis and Newmer­zhycky over because Newmer­zhycky, who was driving, failed to signal as he passed a black SUV. But as can be seen in the video recorded by Simmons’ dashcam (starting around the 00:28 mark), Newmer­zhycky did signal. In the absence of such contrary evidence, cops are free to invent minor traffic infractions to justify a stop they want to conduct for other reasons. Although it does not condone such prevarication, the Supreme Court has said any valid legal reason makes a stop constitutional, even if it’s a pretext for a more ambitious investigation. The Register reports that its “review of 22,000 warnings and citations given by the [interdiction] teams from 2008 to 2012 showed that 86 percent went to non-Iowans.” Because Iowans are much better drivers, of course. “

 

Continue reading at Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s The Internet’s Response To ‘Thank A Police Officer Day’

 

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” One thing you can say about 2014: it’s been a bad year to wear a badge. People around the world are fed up with abusive, militarized police—as a new memo to St. Louis police about a class designed to help officers “win the media” after shooting someone makes perfectly clear.

  Public ire spilled over once again yesterday, with the 17th annual “Thank a Police Officer Day” going about as well as the #MyNYPD hashtag campaign did back in April. The observance, conceived and promoted under the banner of lawyer Andrew M. Hale’s Whole Truth Project, is meant to further that group’s aim of combating negative assumptions about cops. 

 Instead, social media users took the opportunity to reinforce those unflattering stereotypes.

Story continues

Government Self-Interest Corrupted A Crime-Fighting Tool Into An Evil

 

 

” Last week, The Post published a series of in-depth articles about the abuses spawned by the law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture. As two people who were heavily involved in the creation of the asset forfeiture initiative at the Justice Department in the 1980s, we find it particularly painful to watch as the heavy hand of government goes amok. The program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.

  Asset forfeiture was conceived as a way to cut into the profit motive that fueled rampant drug trafficking by cartels and other criminal enterprises, in order to fight the social evils of drug dealing and abuse. Over time, however, the tactic has turned into an evil itself, with the corruption it engendered among government and law enforcement coming to clearly outweigh any benefits.

  Then, in 1986, the concept was expanded to include not only cash earned illegally but also purchases or investments made with that money, creating a whole scheme of new crimes that could be prosecuted as “money laundering.” The property eligible for seizure was further expanded to include “instrumentalities” in the trafficking of drugs, such as cars or even jewelry. Eventually, more than 200 crimes beyond drugs came to be included in the forfeiture scheme.

  The Asset Forfeiture Reform Act was enacted in 2000 to rein in abuses, but virtually nothing has changed. This is because civil forfeiture is fundamentally at odds with our judicial system and notions of fairness. It is unreformable.

 Civil asset forfeiture and money-laundering laws are gross perversions of the status of government amid a free citizenry. The individual is the font of sovereignty in our constitutional republic, and it is unacceptable that a citizen should have to “prove” anything to the government. If the government has probable cause of a violation of law, then let a warrant be issued. And if the government has proof beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt, let that guilt be proclaimed by 12 peers.”

 

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop And Seize

 

Stop & Seize

Click Pic For Video

 

 

 

” After the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the government called on police to become the eyes and ears of homeland security on America’s highways.

  Local officers, county deputies and state troopers were encouraged to act more aggressively in searching for suspicious people, drugs and other contraband. The departments of Homeland Security and Justice spent millions on police training.

  Behind the rise in seizures is a little-known cottage industry of private police-training firms that teach the techniques of “highway interdiction” to departments across the country.

  One of those firms created a private intelligence network known as Black Asphalt Electronic Networking & Notification System that enabled police nationwide to share detailed reports about American motorists — criminals and the innocent alike — including their Social Security numbers, addresses and identifying tattoos, as well as hunches about which drivers to stop.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sen. Rand Paul Wants To Make It Harder For The Feds To Take Your Stuff

 

 

 

 

 

” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) today announced he has introduced the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act to add a bit more due process to the system by which federal prosecutors seize citizens’ assets, often before ever proving they’ve broken the law. From his office’s announcement:

  The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property. State law enforcement agencies will have to abide by state law when forfeiting seized property. Finally, the legislation would remove the profit incentive for forfeiture by redirecting forfeitures assets from the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Fund to the Treasury’s General Fund.

” The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime. The FAIR Act will ensure that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process, while maintaining the ability of courts to order the surrender of proceeds of crime,” Sen. Paul said. “

 

Reason has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New, Unwelcome Question For SDPD: How Has $1M Gone Unaccounted For?

 

 

SDPD Million Dollars Missing

 

 

” There’s yet another mystery now haunting San Diego’s embattled police department: The whereabouts of a million dollars in federal funds that haven’t shown up “on paper.”

  It’s a case that’ll have to be solved by city financial experts and auditors because the cop shop’s numbers don’t square up.

  It may be that somebody didn’t hit a certain number on a keyboard – at least that’s the best City Hall might hope for.

” To me, I’m not worried that it’s a crime; it doesn’t look like that,” said Sean Karafin, CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. “But it’s more of an issue of why was this not caught? Why has it taken four years for the media to be the ones to find it?”

  The million-dollar discrepancy was turned up by the “U-T Watchdog”, which has been reviewing documents involving U.S. Treasury and Justice Department programs that share “forfeited assets” from drug dealers and other crooks with state and local law enforcement.”

 

NBC San Diego

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhode Island Police Seized Over $ 15 Million Over The Last Decade

 

 

 

 

 

 

” The smallest state in the Union can rake in big money from asset forfeiture.

  Since 2003, law enforcement in Rhode Island has hauled in $15.7 million using the state’s asset forfeiture laws. But most of the cases were not targeting drug kingpins. Between 2003 and 2013, the average value of forfeited property was $4,142. Almost 40 percent of these cases affected property valued at less than $1,000. Only 12 out of almost 3,800 incidents involved property worth more than $100,000.

  Last year, 22 police departments seized more than $1.3 million from 306 incidents. But less than half of these actually led to a conviction. In fact, under civil forfeiture, the government can take property from people never convicted of a crime, or even charged with one. Only a handful of states (including, most recently, Minnesota) actually require a criminal conviction to forfeit property.

  According to the Institute for Justice’s survey of America’s civil forfeiture laws, “Policing for Profit,” Rhode Island’s laws are in dire need of reform. To forfeit property, the government only needs to show probable cause, an incredibly low standard of proof. Only nine other states require such little evidence. Not only that, to retrieve property, an owner has to bear the burden of proof—they are considered guilty until proven innocent. As one criminal defense attorney put it, “The playing field is not level. The government has all the leverage.”

  Civil forfeiture in Rhode Island also provides a tantalizing incentive to police for profit. Law enforcement can keep up to 90 percent of the proceeds from forfeited property. As the police chief for Pawtucket, the fourth largest city in the Ocean State, put it, “These assets have been a godsend.”

  Help IJ end policing for profit!”

 

Institute For Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Now Requires A Criminal Conviction Before People Can Lose Their Property To Forfeiture

 

Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul...

 

” In a big win for property rights and due process, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill yesterday to curb an abusive—and little known—police practice called civil forfeiture. Unlike criminal forfeiture, under civil forfeiture someone does not have to be convicted of a crime, or even charged with one, to permanently lose his or her cash, car or home.

  The newly signed legislation, SF 874, corrects that injustice. Now the government can only take property if it obtains a criminal conviction or its equivalent, like if a property owner pleads guilty to a crime or becomes an informant. The bill also shifts the burden of proof onto the government, where it rightfully belongs. Previously, if owners wanted to get their property back, they had to prove their property was not the instrument or proceeds of the charged drug crime. In other words, owners had to prove a negative in civil court. Being acquitted of the drug charge in criminal court did not matter to the forfeiture case in civil court.”

 

Forbes