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Seizure Fever: Proof is for Suckers

Discussion in 'Legal' started by publius, Aug 21, 2006.

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  1. publius

    publius Member

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    Suspicion is good enough for drug warriors.

    Court rules 2003 money seizure correct despite no drugs found
    CHUCK BROWN
    Associated Press

    OMAHA, Neb. - Authorities were correct to assume nearly $125,000 they seized from a California man's car during a traffic stop may have been connected to narcotics trafficking, despite finding no drugs in the vehicle, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

    The ruling from the three-judge panel overturned an earlier decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Thalken in Nebraska in the case of Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez. A state trooper stopped Gonzolez for speeding on Interstate 80 on May 28, 2003.

    Gonzolez's lawyer, Donald Yates of San Diego, said they would appeal the ruling. He said the government is treating unfairly people who don't have credit or bank accounts and are forced to do business in cash.

    "They do not allow for anybody to have a lifestyle different from the average person in Nebraska," Yates said.

    Gonzolez was driving a car that he told officers had been rented by a man named "Luis." Gonzolez also said he had never been arrested and that he was not carrying drugs, guns or large amounts of money.

    After Gonzolez consented, the car was searched and $124,700 in cash was found in a cooler in the back seat. Authorities also learned that Gonzolez had once been arrested for driving while intoxicated and that the person registered as having rented the car was not named "Luis."

    A drug dog later detected the scent of narcotics on the money and seat where the money was found.

    Gonzolez testified that he lied about having the money because he believed that carrying large sums of money might be illegal. He said he secreted it inside the cooler because he feared it could be stolen while he was on the road.

    He planned on using the money to buy a refrigerated truck in Chicago, Gonzolez said, but after arriving there by airplane from California he learned the truck had been sold. He decided to rent a car and drive back to California but needed someone else to rent the car because he had no credit card, he said.

    Gonzolez also said he didn't tell officers about his previous arrest because he didn't think driving while intoxicated was a crime.

    A federal judge in Nebraska said the evidence was not strong enough to link the money to drug trafficking, but the 8th Circuit Court on Thursday disagreed.

    "We believe that the evidence as a whole demonstrates ... that there was a substantial connection between the currency and a drug trafficking offense," the court wrote. "We have adopted the commonsense view that bundling and concealment of large amounts of currency, combined with other suspicious circumstances, supports a connection between money and drug trafficking."

    In dissent, Judge Donald Lay said the evidence provided was not enough to conclude the money was used in drug trafficking.

    "At most, the evidence presented suggests the money seized may have been involved in some illegal activity - activity that is incapable of being ascertained on the record before us," Lay wrote. "Finally, the mere fact that the canine alerted officers to the presence of drug residue in a rental car, no doubt driven by dozens, perhaps scores, of patrons during the course of a given year, coupled with the fact that the alert came from the same location where the currency was discovered, does little to connect the money to a controlled substance offense."
     
  2. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    The problem with these civil seizures is that the thieves get to decide whether they can keep the money. You can litigate it in court, but the chances are you will spend as much in legal fees as you ever get back. Your chances of getting a fair hearing in such a matter is ZERO.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2006
  3. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    Gah.

    For starters, if you're transporting that much money, YOU BETTER CONCEAL IT if you want to keep it.

    Next, IIRC, back in the 80's, they found that something like 8/10 bills had some detectable quantities of coke residue on them.

    That whole mess is going to need to be cleaned up sooner or later.

    It's not acceptable as is.
     
  4. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

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    THE CHAIR IS AGAINST THE WALL
    I The War on Drugs.
     
  5. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    It was concealed.
     
  6. Parker Dean

    Parker Dean Member

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    Based on the article it appears the guy was being evasive, which likely means the cash was for illegal purposes, so I agree with the outcome on this one.

    FWIW, I don't care for the potential for abuse that seizure laws allow. The appearance of impropriety is just too great, even when perfectly justified under the law. Seized items need to go to something other than government entities to take away the stench of corruption.
     
  7. mike101

    mike101 Member

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    Doesn't the prosecution have to PROVE their case anymore?:barf: :fire: Another case of civil liberties being stomped on.
     
  8. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

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    I find it interesting how .gov is finding ways around protections provided by COTUS by going the civil route: asset forfiture and red light cameras being two of the better known outrages.
     
  9. FreedomKommando

    FreedomKommando Member

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    When did evasiveness become a crime punishable by what amounts to a $124,700 fine?

    Turns out he was, in essence, right. Unauthorized possession of "too much" cash has become a crime.

    Turns out that Gonzolez' fears proved correct. In the end, thieves took his money.

    *****

    Constitution of the United States of America
    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Bill of Rights, RIP. :(
     
  10. DKSuddeth

    DKSuddeth Member

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    so now everybody who lives in the jurisdiction of the 8th circuit and carries large amounts of cash are automatically suspected of connections to drug trafficking. yippy ki yay!!!
     
  11. CTD99

    CTD99 Member

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    I deal with large sums of cash everyday. In fact the auctions I go to insist on cash or cashier's check for 10% of the purchase price. Unless you know what the purchase price is how are you gonna have a cashier's check for that amount? The auctions are held on the court house steps and I've been doing it for 15 years. I have to go through security to get there, and never been questioned. Sounds like racial profiling to me.

    If they found no drugs there is no crime.

    Only in Nebraska. :banghead:
     
  12. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

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    It shall certainly be interesting to see what "other suspicious circumstances" devolves into. I've seen where some LEO's consider driving cautiously to be suspicious and I've no doubt that carrying or transporting a firearm, let alone several, can be considered suspicious. We all know that having a coffee can in your vehicle is certainly considered to be suspicious by some.

    Now that this slippery slope is getting steeper, the erosion of rights is keeping pace.
     
  13. mike101

    mike101 Member

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    I'd like to let a drug sniffing dog loose in any bank vault, in any city in this country, and see how much "drug money" they find. Do you mean to tell me his lawyer couldn't beat this?
     
  14. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    Interesting

    I would think to get it back, all he has to do is to show where he got it.
    His lawyer did'nt/wasn't able, obvioulsy, now he has that bill. Plus to file the appeal. He is definitly between a rock and a hard spot.

    Or, was it an attorney supplied by the county, because he could not afford one? Now that all his money is gone.
    LOL...

    Allowing them to search your car is a mistake. Don't allow it. He felt that because it was out of sight he was safe.

    There might have been an informant, they just did it like that. IMHO

    This has been overturned by a 3 judge panel. His lawyer did beat it originally.

    HQ:)
     
  15. Augustwest

    Augustwest Member

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    *shudder*

    Who knew a few years ago that "common sense" would be so Orwellian?
     
  16. Liberal Gun Nut

    Liberal Gun Nut Member

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    The lesson here:

    Listen to Nancy Reagan! When they ask if they can search your car, "Just say no".

    The War on Drugs is a war on YOU!
     
  17. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    At least a war on my freedom. Guess I better stop going to gun shows with cash.:uhoh:

    Doesn't the prosecution have to prove it? Yes, but only by a preponderance of the evidence (meaning more likely than not).

    How can we reform it? Well, if you want the view from the trenches, change the standard of proof to clear and convincing or beyond a reasonable doubt.:)
     
  18. vynx

    vynx Member

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    I've heard the "coffee can" reference before.
    Can someone explain what it refers to?
     
  19. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    Those 3 judges are in collusion

    Basically $125,000.00 in cash in his car and you want him to be found not guilty. How can you relate this as a violation of his rights?

    Speeding and getting caught. He should go to jail for basic stupidity.
    Nebraska is a state where you can go 75 miles an hour I believe.

    Gets stopped for speeding and he is searched, because he is full of lies and no registration to him.
    Probably going to buy some weapons of mass destruction. Forget about the laws against drugs.

    Think, one less terrorist on the street.

    It works for me.

    HQ:)
     
  20. mike101

    mike101 Member

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    I don't see why he should have to show where he got it. He wasn't accused of stealing it. It's still legal to posess cash, as far as I know.;)
     
  21. TallPine

    TallPine Member

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    There was an infamous supposed LEO member of THR (can't remember his nickname) who once posted that having an empty coffee can in your car was probable cause for search (on the assumption that the coffee grounds were used to hide drug odors) :rolleyes:

    He caught so much ridicule for it that he seems to have disappeared, or else his mommy cut off his computer priviledges ;)
     
  22. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Member

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    I suppose Gonzolez will soon be a dead man if the money wasn't his.

    Pilgrim
     
  23. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    My wife's "poor" uncle died in a fall in his home a few years back.

    When my mother-in-law and her brother went through his apartment to prepare for his funeral, they found over $300,000 in cash, CD's and other financial instruments.

    The uncle was 75, and had lived almost as a hermit. Not exactly the profile of your typical drug dealer.

    It's a good thing my mother-in-law reported the cash to an estate attorney, and not to the police. :(

    Whatever happened to the concept of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?
     
  24. tyme

    tyme Member

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  25. hoji

    hoji Member

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    Those 3 judges are in collusion

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Basically $125,000.00 in cash in his car and you want him to be found not guilty. How can you relate this as a violation of his rights?

    Speeding and getting caught. He should go to jail for basic stupidity.
    Nebraska is a state where you can go 75 miles an hour I believe.

    Gets stopped for speeding and he is searched, because he is full of lies and no registration to him.
    Probably going to buy some weapons of mass destruction. Forget about the laws against drugs.

    Think, one less terrorist on the street.

    It works for me.

    HQ"





    :barf: :barf: :barf: :barf: :barf: :barf: :barf: :barf: :barf: SIEG HEIL HQ
     
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