forfeiture

Explaining the law that lets cops steal your cash and property and keep it

Cops can take your stuff without charging you for a crime. They can take fast cars they like and add them to the pool of police vehicles. They can take cash and use it to buy a foosball table for the break room. Good luck getting your stuff back. It's called civil asset forfeiture and is often used to swipe the life savings of migrant workers. Lee Adams of Vice explains how it works. Read the rest

Martin Shkreli's fraud conviction upheld in federal appeals court

Fraudster Martin Shkreli, who enjoyed a brief period of notoriety as an Internet troll and pharmaceutical price-gouger, must remain in prison after a federal appeals court upheld his conviction for multiple instances of securities fraud.

From CNBC:

The three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circut also upheld the more than $6.4 million in forfeiture that a judge imposed on Shkreli last year when she sentenced him for his conviction on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Shkreli, 36, is serving a seven-year sentence in a federal prison in Pennsylvania.

In its ruling, the appeals panel disagreed with Shkreli’s claim that his trial judge’s instructions to the jury at his trial were incorrect and confusing to jurors.

“The instruction given here correctly stated the law,” the appeals panel said in its decision. ” As such, we disagree with Shkreli that exclusion of additional language describing an element not required for the charged crime constituted a prejudicial error.”

Image: JStone/Shutterstock Read the rest

Of $208m in fines leveled against robocallers, the FCC has collected ... $6,790

The Wall Street Journal reports that robocallers go largely unpunished, with all those headline-grabbing fines virtually uncollected.

As syndicated to Fox News:

An FCC spokesman said his agency lacks the authority to enforce the forfeiture orders it issues and has passed all unpaid penalties to the Justice Department, which has the power to collect the fines. Many of the spoofers and robocallers the agency tries to punish are individuals and small operations, he added, which means they are at times unable to pay the full penalties.

“Fines serve to penalize bad conduct and deter future misconduct,” the FCC spokesman said. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which can settle or drop cases, declined to comment.

The dearth of financial penalties collected by the U.S. government for violations of telemarketing and auto-dialing rules shows the limits the sister regulators face in putting a stop to illegal robocalls. It also shows why the threat of large fines can fail to deter bad actors.

I'd bet a dollar the only fines ever collected were from a tiny handful of otherwise legitimate callers who made stupid mistakes. Robocalls and the like will account for nearly half of all calls in 2019, according to the FCC.

Correction: FCC, not FTC. Read the rest

Supreme Court rules against "excessive" police seizures and sales of property

Philly.com:

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 85-year-old justice missed arguments last month following lung cancer surgery, but returned to the bench on Tuesday.

The Times:

Civil forfeiture is a popular way to raise revenue, and its use has been the subject of widespread criticism across the political spectrum.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. On Wednesday, the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states.

There's an element of insanity to it all: it's so difficult to believe that police are allowed to seize and sell people's property that it was correspondingly difficult to get people to accept that it is a widespread practice, rather than some kind of swivel-eyed libertarian conspiracy theory.

Virtually every faction in American politics was firmly against it: the left, liberals, libertarians, movement conservatives, even Trumpkins. In fact, the only person I ever met who sincerely defended civil forfeiture was a self-described "moderate", a centrist. Read the rest

Supreme court curbs states' power to levy fines and seize property through civil forfeiture

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. Read the rest

Police lobbyist: cops will not be motivated to stop crime unless they are allowed to steal people's stuff

South Carolina cops love the state's civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the police to seize any property they believe represents the proceeds of a crime and keep it, unless the property's former owner hires a lawyer to prove the innocence of their goods: more than $17m was seized last year, and in a fifth of these cases, no one was convicted of a crime (71% of the people whose stuff gets stolen by South Carolina cops are Black). Read the rest

Trump ex-attorney Michael Cohen sentenced: 3 years prison, $500,000 forfeiture, $1.4 million restitution, $50,000 fine

Donald Trump's longtime “fixer” and personal attorney has been sentenced to to 36 months (3 years) in federal prison, plus an additional 3 years of supervised release, in a case in the Southern District of New York. Read the rest

Machine learning scientist quits Google over plan to launch censored Chinese search tool

Jack Poulson was a research scientist at Google whose work on machine learning work was used to improve Google's search results; now he's quit the company over its Project Dragonfly, a once-secret plan to launch a censored Chinese search engine; Poulson called the move a "forfeiture of our values." Read the rest

Facebook is the hub of the global trade in endangered species: can securities law be used to force the company into action?

Stephen Kohn, a highpowered whistleblower lawyer (he repped both Linda Tripp and the UBS Leaks whistleblower) showed Wired his heretofore confidential SEC complaint against Facebook, which details the undercover sting operations undertaken by his clients to investigate Facebook's role as a platform for the illegal trade in the remains of endangered species, such as rhino horn, elephant tusks, and lion claws. Read the rest

Customs stole a US citizen's life savings when he boarded a domestic flight, now he's suing to get it back

Rustem Kazazi is a 67-year-old retired Albanian policeman who became a US citizen in 2010; last October, he boarded a flight from his hometown in Cleveland to Newark, planning to continue on to Albania. Read the rest

News crew discovers 40 cellphone-tracking devices operating around DC

An NBC investigative journalism team and a security researcher went wardriving around the DC area with a cell-site-simulator detector that would tell them whenever they came in range of a fake cellphone tower that tried to trick their phones into connecting to it in order to covertly track their locations (some cell site simulators can also hack phones to spy on SMS, calls and data). Read the rest

Martin Shkreli ordered to give up $7.4 million, including his one-of-a-kind Wu Tang Clan album

A federal judge ordered Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of fraud last year, to forfeit $7.4 million. This forfeiture includes a Picasso painting, his $5 million bail posting, and the one-of-a-kind Wu Tang Clan album, "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin." Don't worry, though -- after he pays the fine he'll still have $27.1 million.

From Click on Detroit:

Shkreli was convicted of fraud for deceiving investors and misusing their money while he was a portfolio manager at a hedge fund. He faces sentencing at Brooklyn Federal Court on Friday, and could potentially get up to 20 years in prison.

Image: Shutterstock Read the rest

Zany sheriff does kooky fake ad for county slammer

What to do with all that civil asset forfeiture? Why not erect a fake hotel sign outside the county jail and make a fake ad starring you? That's what Sherriff Rick Staly thought would be fun. Read the rest

The secretive wealthy family behind the opioid epidemic are using the same tactics to kill public education

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. Read the rest

The crooked Secret Service agent who stole Silk Road bitcoins did it again after pleading guilty

Shaun Bridges is the disgraced ex-Secret Service Agent who pleaded guilty to stealing bitcoin from online drug dealers while he was investigating the Silk Road; he's serving a 71-month sentence and has just had two years added to it after he pleaded guilty to stealing more bitcoin after his guilty plea, while he was out on bail Read the rest

NYPD has no backup for its seized property database, recording millions in annual seizures

The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is the NYPD's huge database where it stores ownership information on the millions in New Yorkers' property it takes charge of every year (including about $68m in cash and counting), through evidence collection and asset forfeiture. Read the rest

Leaked ICE forfeiture manual instructs agents to seize houses if they contain a phone implicated in crime

ICE have become house-flippers, using the notorious and discredited "civil asset forfeiture" process to steal houses from people they say were involved in crime, then selling the houses to fund their operations, and more seizures of more houses. Read the rest

Next page

:)