Advertisements

Tag Archive: Asset Forfeiture


Loretta Lynch Confirmed As New Attorney General — Here Are The 10 Republicans Who Voted For Her

 

 

 

 

” The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general, with the help of 10 Republicans who ignored complaints that Lynch would use her new position to support what many say is President Barack Obama’s unconstitutional immigration plan.

  The Senate voted 56–43 in favor of Lynch, approving her with help of Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “

 

 

A republican “majority” is worthless when made up of spineless RINOs such as these …

 

The Blaze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Video 2.15.15

IRS Unleashed: Feds Show Up At Dairy Farm And Wrongfully Seize $62k

 

 

Published on Feb 12, 2015

” IRS Unleashed: Feds Show Up at Dairy Farm and Wrongfully Seize $62k (February 12, 2015) “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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’

 

Embedded image permalink

 

 

” 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Shakedown: Police Won’t Charge You, But They’ll Grab Your Money

 

 

 

 

 

 

” On its official website, the Canadian government informs its citizens that “there is no limit to the amount of money that you may legally take into or out of the United States.” Nonetheless, it adds, banking in the U.S. can be difficult for non-residents, so Canadians shouldn’t carry large amounts of cash.

That last bit is excellent advice, but for an entirely different reason than the one Ottawa cites.

There’s a shakedown going on in the U.S., and the perps are in uniform.

  Across America, law enforcement officers — from federal agents to state troopers right down to sheriffs in one-street backwaters — are operating a vast, co-ordinated scheme to grab as much of the public’s cash as they can; “hand over fist,” to use the words of one police trainer. “

  It usually starts on the road somewhere. An officer pulls you over for some minor infraction — changing lanes without proper signalling, following the car ahead too closely, straddling lanes. The offense is irrelevant.

  Then the police officer wants to chat, asking questions about where you’re going, or where you came from, and why. He’ll peer into your car, then perhaps ask permission to search it, citing the need for vigilance against terrorist weaponry or drugs.

What he’s really looking for, though, is money.

‘Authorities claim it’s legal, but some prosecutors and judges have called it what it is: abuse. In any case, it’s a nasty American reality.’

  And if you were foolish (or intimidated) enough to have consented to the search, and you’re carrying any significant amount of cash, you are now likely to lose it.

  The officer will probably produce a waiver, saying that if you just sign over the money then the whole matter will just disappear, and you’ll be able to go on your way.

  Refuse to sign it, and he may take the cash anyway, proclaiming it the probable proceeds of drugs or some other crime.

  Either way, you almost certainly won’t be charged with anything; the objective is to take your money, not burden the system.

  You’ll have the right to seek its return in court, but of course that will mean big lawyer’s fees, and legally documenting exactly where the money came from. You will need to prove you are not a drug dealer or a terrorist.

  It might take a year or two. And several trips back to the jurisdiction where you were pulled over. Sorry.

  In places like Tijuana, police don’t make any pretense about this sort of thing. Here in the U.S., though, it’s dressed up in terms like “interdiction and forfeiture,” or “the equitable sharing program.

  Authorities claim it’s legal, but some prosecutors and judges have called it what it is: abuse.

  In any case, it’s a nasty American reality.

  Seizing suspected drug money has been legal here for decades, but after 9/11 police acquired a whole new set of powers and justifications. And they set about using them for profit.

The Washington Post this week reported that in the past 13 years, there have been 61,998 cash seizures on roadways and elsewhere without use of search warrants. The total haul: $2.5 billion.

  As the Canadian government notes, there is no law against carrying it here or any legal limit on how much you can carry. But  if you’re on an American roadway with a full wallet, in the eyes of thousands of cash-hungry cops you’re a rolling ATM. “

 

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iowa Cops Seize Almost $ 50,000 From A Couple , Didn’t Charge Them With A Crime

 

bilde

 

 

 

” A Minnesota couple is suing the Iowa City Police Department to return almost $50,000, arguing police wrongfully seized that cash. Kearnice Overton was driving with his four kids on I-80 when Iowa City police pulled him over for speeding. Police brought a K-9 unit and based on the dog giving a “silent indicator on the vehicle,” police searched Overton’s car. They found $48,000.

   Drug sniffing dogs can have a very high false positive rate, i.e., they alert even when there are no drugs. Yet as the Institute for Justice demonstrated in an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court, “There are countless examples of police seizing large sums of cash based on nothing more than a positive dog alert.” Plus, in Iowa, law enforcement can keep 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeited property, creating an immense incentive to police for profit.”

 

Institute For Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cops Use Traffic Stops To Seize Millions From Drivers Never Charged With A Crime

 

 

Civil Forfeiture Nevada

 

” A deputy for the Humboldt County’s Sheriff Office in rural Nevada has been accused of confiscating over $60,000 from drivers who were never charged with a crime.  These cash seizures are now the subject of two federal lawsuits and are the latest to spotlight a little-known police practice called civil forfeiture.”

 

 

Here is a picture of the offending officer smiling with his stolen money .

 

Lee Dove

Photo Credit: AP

 

The Sheriff’s department even bragged about the “accomplishment” …

 

” County officials were not shy in the past about discussing their cash seizures. The day after Nguyen had his money taken, the sheriff issued a news release with a photograph of Dove pictured with a K-9 and $50,000 in seized cash “after a traffic stop for speeding.” “

 

 

A stop that resulted in no ticket being issued , mind you … Then the arrogant Sheriff compounded the deceit by making the baseless allegation :

 

 

“This cash would have been used to purchase illegal drugs and now will benefit Humboldt County with training and equipment. Great job,” the statement said. Dove’s report said he had the money counted at a bank, then gave it to the district attorney’s office “for asset/seizure/forfeiture.” “

 

 

   Can anyone think of a more Un-American way of police “upholding the law” than to be able to confiscate private property at will without benefit of a day in court ? What happened to “innocent until proven guilty” ? The 4th amendment ?

 

 

” Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to seize property (including cash and cars) without having to prove the owners are guilty.   Last September, Tan Nguyen was pulled over for driving three miles over the speed limit, according to a suit he filed.  Deputy Lee Dove asked to search the car but Nguyen said he declined.  Dove claimed he smelled marijuana but couldn’t find any drugs.  The deputy then searched the car and found a briefcase containing $50,000 in cash and cashier’s checks, which he promptly seized.  According to the Associated Press, Nguyen said he won that cash at a casino.”

 

    So an Officer’s word that he smelled marijuana , a specious unprovable claim if ever there was one , is justification for illegal search ? That in and of itself is reason enough to legalize pot . The criminal behavior fostered in the law enforcement establishment by the “war on drugs” has reached the point where the authorities can just take what they want , wherever they want , whenever they want . Does no one see the tyranny in that ?

 

” Nguyen was not arrested or charged with a crime—not even a traffic citation.  In the suit, Dove threatened to seize and tow Nguyen’s car unless he “got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.”  That would have left Nguyen stranded in the Nevada desert.”

 

 

In order to avoid being stranded in the desert Mr Tran was forced to ...

 

 

” As a condition of release, Nguyen signed a “property for safekeeping receipt,” which indicated the money was abandoned or seized and not returnable. But the lawsuit says he did so only because Dove threatened to seize his vehicle unless he “got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.”

 

 

 

   This is banditry … Government sanctioned banditry … nothing more , nothing less , and we as Americans should be ashamed of a government that not only condones but facilitates and trumpets these kind of blatant civil rights violations . Copies of Tran’s and Smith’s lawsuits can be found at the links .

Read more here , here and here .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supreme Court Expands Police Power To Seize Your Assets Before Conviction

 

 

 

” It’s been a banner week for law enforcement at the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, in the case of Fernandez v. California, the Court broadened the power of the police to conduct warrantless home searches. But it was a decision handed down on Monday that’s likely to have the greatest impact on our criminal justice system.

  At issue in Monday’s ruling in Kaley v. United States is an area of the law known as asset forfeiture. In essence, asset forfeiture is designed to help law enforcement officials seize the ill-gotten fruits of criminal activity, such as cash, cars, or homes. To that end, prosecutors are permitted to freeze the assets of criminal suspects during trial if there is probable cause to believe those assets constitute “proceeds” of the alleged criminal activity. Notice that this freezing occurs before the suspect has been duly convicted.”

 

   Statism continues it’s long march with the aid of the very self-same courts that are supposed to protect our rights . Does anyone doubt that the deck has come to be stacked against the private citizen when the highest court in the land continually comes down on the side of Leviathan ? There comes only one more method of recourse .

   The legislative branch has forsaken the people , the executive branch has forsaken the people and now the judicial branch has forsaken the people . Scalia , Thomas and Alito sided with the State on asset forfeiture and  Alito , Roberts , Thomas , Scalia all voted to broaden the warrantless search rules for the State … For Shame . What happened to their “strict construtionalism” ?   What to do , what to do ? 

   Perhaps the most surprising thing of all is that Sondra Sotomayer was the only justice to comer down on the side of liberty in both cases . Read more at Reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How The NYPD’s Use Of Civil Forfeiture Robs Innocent New Yorkers

 

 

” In the middle of the night in March of 2012, NYPD officers burst into the Bronx home of Gerald Bryan, ransacking his belongings, tearing out light fixtures, punching through walls, and confiscating $4,800 in cash. Bryan, 42, was taken into custody on suspected felony drug distribution, as the police continued their warrantless search. Over a year later, Bryan’s case was dropped. When he went to retrieve his $4,800, he was told it was too late: the money had been deposited into the NYPD’s pension fund. Bryan found himself trapped in the NYPD’s labyrinthine civil forfeiture procedure, a policy based on a 133-year-old law which robs poor New Yorkers of millions of dollars every year; a law that has been ruled unconstitutional twice.”

 

 

 

 

” ” They do this all the time, to so many people I know,” Bryan, a bartender of 21 years, told us in the office of the Bronx Defenders. Before the raid, he had planned on using the cash to take his girlfriend on a cruise. “A lot of people, when they get arrested, they know that their money is just gone, and they know that the police are taking it to enrich themselves.”

  Civil forfeiture, the act by which a municipality can seize money during an arrest, has always been a controversial weapon of law enforcement. The practice became more prevalent in the 1980s, when jurisdictions around the country began pursuing cases involving money in both civil and criminal court in an effort to fight organized crime and deprive criminals of their income, even if they couldn’t imprison them.

  This summer The New Yorker published a sprawling investigation on how cities use the practice to bolster their cash-strapped coffers by seizing the assets of the poor, often on trumped up charges.”

 

 

 

” The same is true in New York City, where the civil forfeiture process has long been used by the NYPD to seize money from those least likely to be able to get it back.

” It’s very difficult for the victims of , most of whom are from a lower socio-economic class, to do anything in the court system, much less win a civil forfeiture case,” said attorney David B. Smith, the nation’s leading expert on forfeiture law.”

 

 

 

 

” Any arrest in New York City can trigger a civil forfeiture case if money or property is found on or near a defendant, regardless of the reasons surrounding the arrest or its final disposition. In the past ten years, the NYPD has escalated the amount of civil forfeiture actions it pursues as public defense offices have been stretched thin by the huge amount of criminal cases across the city. 

One of the main problems with civil forfeiture is that you’re not assigned a lawyer, it being a civil and not a criminal case,” Smith explains. “Most people can’t afford lawyers, and that gives the government a tremendous advantage.” “

 

Legalized theft , pure and simple .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 And Not A Single Lawmaker Voted Against It

 

 

” A new report published by the Libertas Institute, a free market think tank, reveals how a little-known new law greatly weakened legal protections for property owners facing civil forfeiture in Utah.  Unlike criminal forfeiture, with civil forfeiture, someone does not have to be convicted of or even charged with a crime to permanently lose their property.

  Sponsors of the bill, HB 384, presented their amendments as a mere “re-codification” of the state’s forfeiture law.  While some of the changes to Utah’s forfeiture laws might appear minor, they have significant consequences.”

 

Read more at Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michigan Legislators Consider Making It More Difficult For Police To Steal

 

 

 

 

” Michigan legislators have introduced a pair of bills that would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws, which currently enable law enforcement agencies to seize property from innocent people easily and profitably. Michigan police departments and district attorneys have padded their budgets to the tune of $70 million in the last three years via forfeiture, according to Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice,* a law firm that litigates asset forfeiture.

  HB 5213 would require a criminal conviction before the police and prosecutors can forfeit property. Such a change is desirable because Michigan police and prosecutors have an unfortunate habit of taking peoples’ stuff even when the criminal charges that supposedly justify the forfeiture are dropped, dismissed, or otherwise jettisoned.

  HB 5081, meanwhile, would require seizing agencies to compile detailed reports on their forfeiture activities. Such a change is desirable because, apart from aggregates and anecdotes, information (on what is being seized, from whom, and why) is hard to come by. Also, transparency may encourage police to use funds more judiciously.

  Of course, the law routinely ensnares innocent people. We find out about them when they go to court. But some not-inconsequential number of forfeitures involve innocent owners who opt against a legal fight to recover items worth less than the cost of a lawyer.”

 

 

Reason.com has the story

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Video 11.18.13

Give Us Cash Or Lose Your Kids And Face Felony Charges: Don’t Cops Have Better Things To Do?!

Published on Nov 14, 2013

” Think speed traps are crooked? A Texas town’s “cash for freedom” policy has taken highway robbery to a whole new level. 

Imagine getting pulled over while on a family vacation and having small-town cops accuse you and your family of being drug couriers. Then imagine hearing that you have two options: Fork over your cash and continue on your vacation or face felony charges for money laundering and child endangerment, in which case you go to jail and your kids get handed over to foster care. That’s what happened to Ron Henderson and Jennifer Boatright while traveling through Tenaha, Texas, a town that regards piracy as just another way to raise revenue. 

Henderson and Boatright’s case helped launch a class action lawsuit against abusive civil forfeiture laws, laws which allow law enforcement to to shake down people and cash in. And don’t be fooled by officers tooling around town in Escalades seized from hotshot drug dealers– law enforcement often targets those who cannot afford to hire an attorney to fight for the return of their property. 

Officers may swipe your property even if you’re not charged with a crime. Cops can drive the cars they grab, and seized cash has even been funneled to officers’ salaries. Booty is often a large source of law enforcement funding, and last year the Department of Justice pulled in a record $4.2 billion from civil forfeitures.

Mix easy targets with the all-too-common “guilty until proven innocent” presumption, and it’s no wonder officers get distracted chasing profit instead of bad guys. In 53 percent of violent crimes nationwide, no one is arrested let alone convicted. So even though it isn’t as lucrative as busting people for drug offenses, maybe cops could spend less hunting down cash and cars and more time busting murders and rapists.

2 minutes, 20 seconds.

Follow the show on Twitter (@DontCops) and submit your nominees for next episode. To watch previous episodes, go here:http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=…

“Don’t Cops Have Better Things to Do?” is written and directed by Ted Balaker (@tedbalaker). Producer is Matt Edwards (@MattChrisEd). Opening motion graphics by Meredith Bragg. Camera by Paul Detrick. Music by audionautix.com and “The Contessa” is by Maurice and the Beejays (Magnatune Records). 

Go to http://reason.com/reasontv/2013/11/14…
for downloadable versions and subscribe to ReasonTV’s YouTube Channel to receive notifications when new material goes live.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It Time To Reconsider The Militarization Of Police?

 

 

” On Jan. 4 of last year, a local narcotics strike force conducted a raid on the Ogden, Utah, home of Matthew David Stewart at 8:40 p.m. The 12 officers were acting on a tip from Mr. Stewart’s former girlfriend, who said that he was growing marijuana in his basement. Mr. Stewart awoke, naked, to the sound of a battering ram taking down his door. Thinking that he was being invaded by criminals, as he later claimed, he grabbed his 9-millimeter Beretta pistol.

The police say that they knocked and identified themselves, though Mr. Stewart and his neighbors said they heard no such announcement. Mr. Stewart fired 31 rounds, the police more than 250. Six of the officers were wounded, and Officer Jared Francom was killed. Mr. Stewart himself was shot twice before he was arrested. He was charged with several crimes, including the murder of Officer Francom.

In my own research, I have collected over 50 examples in which innocent people were killed in raids to enforce warrants for crimes that are either nonviolent or consensual (that is, crimes such as drug use or gambling, in which all parties participate voluntarily). These victims were bystanders, or the police later found no evidence of the crime for which the victim was being investigated. They include Katherine Johnston, a 92-year-old woman killed by an Atlanta narcotics team acting on a bad tip from an informant in 2006; Alberto Sepulveda, an 11-year-old accidentally shot by a California SWAT officer during a 2000 drug raid; and Eurie Stamps, killed in a 2011 raid on his home in Framingham, Mass., when an officer says his gun mistakenly discharged. Mr. Stamps wasn’t a suspect in the investigation.”

 

 

READ THE WHOLE THING

 

 

 

 

Triumphant Motel Owner Slams Carmen Ortiz

 

 

 

” A Tewksbury motel owner who just beat back U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s three-year bid to seize his business has become the latest critic to accuse the Hub’s top fed of prosecutorial bullying.

“I don’t think she should have the power she has to pull this stuff on people,” Russ Caswell, owner of the Motel Caswell, told the Herald last night after a judge’s ruling in his favor.

The feds first tried to grab Caswell’s property in 2009 under drug seizure laws, citing numerous drug busts at the motel. Caswell’s defense team argued that he was not responsible for what guests did. And his lawyers found there was actually more drug activity at nearby businesses, and theorized the government was going after Caswell, who has no criminal record, because his mortgage-free property is worth more than $1 million.

“It’s bullying by the government. And it’s a huge waste of taxpayer money,” said Caswell, whose father built the motel in 1955. “This has been a huge financial and physical toll. It’s thrown our whole family into turmoil. You work for all your life to pay for something and these people come along and think it’s theirs. It’s just wrong. The average person can’t afford to fight this.” ”

 

 

   Ironic that the Federal judge in the Caswell case , Carmen Ortiz , is the same one that has been thrust into the spotlight as the prosecuting attorney in the late Aaron Swartz’s case . Swartz , it should be recalled is the internet pioneer , co-founder of Reddit that was facing up to 35 years in jail and $1 million in fines when he took his own life several weeks ago . 

Was this Business Owner Targeted by the Government Because His Property was Free and Clear?

HT/AgainstCronyCapitalism

 … to Buy Flat-Screen TVs, Segways, Training From Disney

 

 

 

  ” Ever wonder exactly what local law enforcement agencies do with all the money they seize under federal and local asset forfeiture laws? TheMilwaukee Journal Sentinelreports that the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office has used it to buy:

…workout equipment for Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.’s command staff, customer training for 50 employees through a Disney program and a mounted patrol unit, a county audit released Friday shows.

The tab for the workout gear came to $11,400; the Disney Destinations training cost $24,900; and more than $77,000 went for horse rental, boarding and transport for the sheriff’s mounted patrol. A $43,000 Dodge Ram pickup bought in 2008 to haul the horses was the largest portion of the mounted patrol spending from the fund, the report says.”