Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Police seize millions from motorists never charged with crimes

Cops Use Traffic Stops To Seize Millions From Drivers Never Charged With A Crime - Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice, Forbes:

March 12, 2014 - "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.

"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.... Nguyen was not arrested or charged with a crime — not even a traffic citation....

"Unsurprisingly, seizing cash from traffic stops can earn millions for law enforcement.... Bob Vogel ... seized $6.5 million in cash from cars going southbound on I-95 in Volusia County, Florida. But usually the cars that smuggled drugs went northbound. Plus, part of the 'drug courier' profile for Sheriff Vogel 'was that cars obeying the speed limit were suspect — their desire to avoid being stopped made them stand out.' The Orlando Sentinel later found that in three out of every four cases, no charges were filed."

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