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Tag Archive: Civil 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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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