The Supreme Court today unanimously rules for Tyson Timbs, a small-time drug offender whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized by the state of Indiana as a civil forfeiture.
Banks have to report deposits of $10,000 or more to the IRS, so some fraudsters "structure" their transactions as a string of sub-$10K payments that escape the regulatory requirement. Structuring is also illegal, and the IRS has the power to seize funds that the agency believes were part of a structuring scheme, under the discredited "civil fofeiture" process through which an inanimate object is sued for being the proceeds of a crime, and then the owner of that object has to prove that the object is "innocent."
Crooked cops and prosecutors in Nebraska are gnashing their teeth today. The state has taken away their license to steal cash and property from innocent people and use the proceeds to fatten their bloated budgets.
In some states where civil forfeiture is still allowed, high ranking police officers drive in luxury sports cars taken from owners who were never arrested for a crime. — Read the rest
"Yesterday, two landmark reforms took effect in Montana and New Mexico," says Nick Sibilla. "Both states now require a criminal conviction for civil forfeiture, while New Mexico went even further and banned the practice outright."
In a surprise move, the US Attorney General has ordered police departments to cease the practice of civil forfeiture (basically, stealing stuff and selling it) unless the forfeiture is related to a specific warrant or charge.
As always, John Oliver's take on something newsworthy, corrupt, and jaw-droppingly absurd manages to nail it straight through the beating heart.
Many states have passed laws limiting how much of your stuff the police can steal when they accuse you of a crime, but the Department of Justice has the solution for local cops: they will "adopt" a local seizure, making it federal and exempting it from state-level corruption controls.
In "continuing education" seminars, cops are instructed to be on the lookout for people with nice stuff that can be easily resold, figure out a crime that those people might be guilty of, and tell the City Attorney so that that stuff can be grabbed through "civil forfeiture."
Philadelphia authorities enjoy robbing its innocent citizens and spending the money on fancy stuff for their own use.
"Taken" is a blood-boiling, beautifully written expose on America's "civil forfeiture" laws by which people who are tangentially related to suspected drug offenses have their assets seized, even when no charges are filed and no guilt is found. The story, which Sarah Stillman wrote for The New Yorker, revolves around the notorious town of Tenaha, TX, a small town on US 59 where a corrupt system allowed cops to pull over people — mostly brown people — and simply take away all their possessions: their cars, their cash, even the gold crosses around their necks. — Read the rest
The nonprofit Institute for Justice has just released the 3rd edition of its Policing For Profit report, examining the abuses of civil asset forfeiture by local police across the United States. According to their data, local police departments have seized more than $68 billion dollars worth of personal property without due process over the last 20 years. — Read the rest
Earlier this week someone moved nearly a billion dollars worth of bitcoin (69,369 BTC ) from a wallet address that hadn't been active since 2015. Speculation was rampant about who it could be. Kim Jong Un? An Eastern European crime syndicate? Hackers who cracked the password (they'd been brute force attacking it for years)? — Read the rest
Between 2000-2016 the U.S. government seized over 2 billion dollars from U.S. airport travelers. The vast majority of these people were not charged with a crime. The Institute for Justice highlights one such case involving a retired railroad engineer and his daughter:
— Read the rest
Retired railroad engineer Terry Rolin's life savings were seized by the government, but he hasn't been charged with any crime.
— Read the rest
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the court's opinion in favor of Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana. Police seized Timbs' $40,000 Land Rover when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin.
Reading a summary of her opinion in the courtroom, Ginsburg noted that governments employ fines "out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence" because fines are a source of revenue.
The Sackler Family are best known for philanthropy, but their real legacy is the opioid epidemic, which they engineered through their family firm, Purdue Pharmaceutical, which used a variety of front organizations that paved the way for massive overprescription of the company's painkillers, while covering up the flaws in the drug-testing for Purdue's products and the false claims about their safety and efficacy.
It took four years, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of 72 year old grandmother Elizabeth Young, whose house was seized by the Philadelphia District Attorney under asset forfeiture rules when her son was caught selling $140 worth of marijuana to undercover agents. — Read the rest
Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has seized $72M worth of property from people who were not convicted of any crime, through the discredited civil forfeiture process, keeping $48M worth of the gains (the rest went to the Cook County prosecutor's office and the Illinois State Police) in an off-the-books, unreported slush fund that it used to buy secret surveillance gear.
In the Bronx (and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere) when your belongings are seized as "evidence," it can be impossible to ever get them back, even if you're never charged with a crime.
A USA Today investigation has discovered a network of paid informants working for Amtrak and nearly every US airline who illegally delve into passengers' travel records to find people who might be traveling with a lot of cash: these tip-offs are used by the DEA to effect civil forfeiture — seizing money without laying any charges against its owner, under the rubric that the cash may be proceeds from drug sales. — Read the rest
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has purchased several 'Electronic Recovery and Access to Data' devices to install in police cruisers for seizing funds from prepaid debit cards during roadside arrests. — Read the rest