Washington Post: A former Marine was pulled over for following a truck too closely. Police took nearly $87,000 of his cash.
- The officers did not arrest Stephen or charge him with any crime. They just took his life savings and left him on the side of the road without enough money to even afford gas to drive home.
- He is considered guilty of having illicit cash until he can hire a lawyer to prove that he is innocent.
Greenville News: Civil Asset forfeiture hurts African Americans most
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- Stephen is a 39-year-old retired Marine from Lubbock, Texas. He is a devoted father of two teenage daughters and, once a month, he drives from Texas to see them in California, where they live with their mother. Eager to be closer after spending the pandemic in Texas caring for his elderly parents, he has been shopping for a home near the California-Nevada border.
- In February 2021, Stephen was making his usual trip west through Reno when he was pulled over by the Nevada Highway Patrol for supposedly following a tractor-trailer too closely.
- The officer complimented Stephen’s driving, thanked him for observing the speed limit, and explained that NHP was “conducting a public information campaign” to help drivers avoid danger. Confident that the officer was only there to help, Stephen cooperated with his escalating investigation, even volunteering that he was carrying a large amount of cash.
- Ninety minutes later, Stephen had been robbed of his life savings—$86,900—which he carried with him after a spate of robberies in his parents’ neighborhood. The officer who pulled Stephen over wanted to let him go; he was overruled by NHP Sergeant Glenn Rigdon, who ordered the money seized specifically so that it could be “adopted” by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
- “Adoption” is a process by which federal law enforcement agencies can take over a seizure by state and local law enforcement. If the federal government is successful in forfeiting the property, its “equitable sharing” program guarantees the state or local agency that seized the property up to 80% of the proceeds for use in the agency’s budget.
- In Stephen’s case, the DEA sat on his life savings for months, ignoring the legal deadlines requiring it to charge Stephen with a crime, begin a civil forfeiture case against his property, or return the money within six months of seizure. The DEA did none of those things. So, on August 30, IJ sued it in federal court on Stephen’s behalf.
- Early the morning of September 1, the agency announced it would return all of Stephen’s money. In less than 24 hours, it had learned of our lawsuit, answered hard questions from The Washington Post, and committed to reviewing its policies for federal adoptions.
- When we learned he would be getting his money back (filled with joy), he told us, “This isn’t over.”
- And it isn’t. At the same time we filed in federal court, we also filed a major constitutional challenge in state court. Our state case aims to make federal adoptions impossible in Nevada as violations of the state constitution’s guarantees of reasonable seizures supported by probable cause and due process of law—not based on mere suspicion or for the financial benefit of the seizing agency. If we are successful, it will be the first time a state court has struck down federal adoptions. And a victory will take the profit motive out of roadside seizures.
Filmed with a Canon C70 with a 50mm 1.2 lens. Aputure 300d, 120d, and amaran.
- Check out our latest video in our Policing for Profit series. This one is about local police terrorizing a small town. They even got a tank. https://youtu.be/-cil2gdCa-k
- I spent 33 years in law enforcement I can tell you this is corrupt no matter what the pretense is. If police can’t understand why they are hated by the public look no further then these actions.
- This is what being transparent,complying and being respectful will get you when the system is corrupt to its core
- When someone like a cop or detective starts acting nice, that’s the moment you need to call your lawyer.
- This is why I sometimes regret serving my country during the best years of my life. I’m boiling over this!
- As a retired Marine myself, I found this to be appalling. I wonder if racism was rooted in this officers decision. He, like I, and being Marines are always respectful of authority. I’m truly saddened that there are law enforcement officers out there with their own self righteous, feel good, look what I did today attitude. I will certainly be less forth coming, but respectful, if I am ever involved in a situation such as this Marine went through. God bless our country…
- He didn’t trust the banks and now he doesn’t trust police. What a shame.
- “To protect and to serve, they’re own interests” The fact that it’s not illegal, in their book,should tell you that ethics and morality have little to do with what’s legal and what is not. The DEA agent was surely aware of the high % of cash that drug residue is found on, yet uses this as justification for this,,quite literally no less than highway robbery. When this corrupt practice is considered legal, every (Law) is a crime, and every cop is a criminal.
- I’m a bartender and I almost got $8k taken from my car once. Had to say over and over to the officer during the stop that I don’t consent to searches. He insulted me up and down with how bad that makes me look but at the end of the day there was nothing he could do about it. I was within my rights.
- This has nothing to do with “drugs”. Our government hates it when people take back their financial privacy. It’s easy to track people that use their credit card like a good sheep.Lots of power in such information.
- “He was driving under the speed limit which is odd” “he has his bank receipts which is odd”.. you can’t even do the right legal thing without it being odd
- This happened to a buddy of mine, also in Nevada (Las Vegas), where the police entered his home due to a loud party he was having. They entered, found some Marijuana and then continued to search the rest of his house and discovered some savings in the amount of 22k. He was a real estate agent, and also did not trust banks. They seized the cash and he had to go through the same process of proving the money was legal gained and not through illicit activities. It was a long battle but I believe he got most of his money back, minus attorneys fees of course.
- It happened to my 68 yr old brother too. He doesn’t trust banks and he over 10,000 in cash. And he got pulled over and they took it from him stating it looked suspicious to have that much money. My brother lives in a mobile home and works full time in group homes for mentally challenged. He doesn’t do drugs. And he is a loner! He never got his money back.
- I’m 57 years old and was raised to be pro police as my father worked as an LEO for a few years. I’ve always supported law enforcement, even with financial donations. That ends today. This is a fucking disgrace to a man who risked his life for my freedoms. The cops confiscation motives are driven by a Service Award Commendation related to theft in office. Until things change I have to distance myself from further law enforcement support.
- once a cop says “give me a second, let me make anphone call..” you know you’re going to be a victim.
- A former Marine should not only know his rights, he should have invoked his rights. Never talk to cops without a lawyer present, and never consent to a search…ever!
- That cop acted like he was his friend. How do you be so nice and cordial while stabbing this good citizen in the heart? How much lawyer money did it cost this guy to get his money back? This is sickening.
- ” I don’t trust banks so I keep my own money. “, you’re not the only one, Marine.
- This man was racially profiled. The reason he got pulled over in the first place was completely bogus. Also, if he had refused to have his vehicle searched they would have brought out the drug sniffing dog, signal to the dog to react, and then search it anyway. This man was screwed no matter how cooperative he was.
- What’s even more shocking is the victim also has a tonne of receipts to prove where the money has come from 🤦
- As a veteran who doesn’t trust banks as well this really kills me. You serve your country, have friends and family die for your country, then it robs you. This should never happen, and reminds me of other countries I was in over seas.
- Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have abused civil asset forfeiture programs in the past. In many cases, innocent Texas residents lose their property because they lack knowledge of civil forfeiture laws and the proper proceedings to challenge them. Many people do not realize that you can lose your property through civil forfeiture even if you have never been convicted of a crime.
- The police had ZERO intention of getting that money back to him unless they were sued AND given bad PR. Thank you for representing him!
- Same thing happened to my senior citizen parents at the airport when they were going on vacation. They had $10,500 and it was seized because of suspicion of drug money. They were able to get it back after proving how they legally earned it.
- The same thing has happened to me by the CBP they seized my property while driving on the road without a warrant or reason. Now I have been out of business for more than a month.
- If cops do this to a vet with a clean record and receipts I can’t imagine how many other people this happens too.
- If you people understood the level of corruption in law enforcement in the state of Nevada from corrections to highway patrol to sheriff’s departments and P D’s you would be afraid. I’ve also seen unfair treatment like this in California.
- This will make people never want to trust that the police are “just asking routine questions”. It should’ve never taken a lawsuit to get HIS money back because it should’ve never been seized to begin with, unless they had PROOF of illegal activity. This gives “highway robbery” a whole new meaning! This man fought for the country, but then had to fight the same government 😡