By on January 19, 2015

Fairfax County Virginia Police BMW 3 Series Cruiser

The United States Department of Justice announced Friday that local and state law enforcement can no longer use federal programs to seize the assets of those believed to have committed a crime without conviction.

The Washington Post reports the move would “prohibit federal agency adoptions of state and local seizures, except for public safety reasons,” such as illegal firearms, explosives and property associated with child pornography, per outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. Cash and vehicle seizures by said authorities, made under the oft-abused War on Drugs Era Equitable Sharing asset forfeiture program, can now only be made under state law.

The federal program had become a boon to local enforcement over the years, netting $2.5 billion in assets from citizens without warrants or indictments since September 11, 2001. Once the assets were in possession, they would be used to acquire items such as military-grade equipment and premium vehicles, all without much oversight.

Despite criticism from those affected and their supporters — believing the new policy would hinder legitimate efforts to fight drug trafficking and terrorism — Holder says the policy “will ensure that these authorities can continue to be used to take the profit out of crime and return assets to victims, while safeguarding civil liberties,” adding that even the federal government has little use for either criminal or civil forfeiture laws these days. Around 7,600 of the 18,000 police departments in the U.S. would be affected by the changes implemented.

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129 Comments on “US Justice Department Bans Local, State Police From Using Federal Civil Forfeiture Program...”


  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    About.

    Fucking.

    Time.

  • avatar
    86er

    Was this an expansion of RICO-era laws? Sounds a lot like it.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    I feel like the Coen Brothers could make a good movie about cops getting rich off of civil forfeitures. It was a gross scenario. Glad it’s somewhat limited now.

  • avatar
    Silence

    Halfway there, but it’s a lot better than the way it was.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I find it interesting the citizens of Fairfax County VA get to line the pockets of the service center of their friendly BMW dealer. Shouldn’t that of just been sold at auction after it was stolen, er, repatriated?

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Lame attempt at snark; please try again. 1st of all, you are assuming that the vehicle is serviced at a BMW dealer. I am quite sure Fairfax County has some mechanics who can wrench on BMW’s. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dvs/ The facilities service and maintain approximately 6,347 vehicles, which include 1,540 school buses for FCPS. I’m glad they got some drug dealers BMW. Yes, I do live in Fairfax County, VA. Next

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        My brother is a LEO, his motorpool does not wrench the new(er) Taurus and Explorer marked vehicles which are sent to the dealer. The reasoning for this I am not quite sure of (union rules?), although the fact everything else in the motorpool being GM might have something to do with it. I highly doubt this vehicle is serviced by their motorpool save perhaps an oil change. The only other thing which comes to mind other than the taxpayer picking up the tab is this vehicle is *not* regularly serviced and the LEOs will simply use it up and dump it with a Christmas tree dashboard. In any event, it should have been sold and the monies used to buy either more patrol vehicles or if the chief needs a toy, a domestic sports car.

      • 0 avatar
        maderadura

        Well, now they have to be CONVICTED drug dealers and not just suspected drug dealers. I think before you forfeit your stuff, you should at the very least been found guilty of something. Next.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          FWIW ;

          My Son is an L.A.P.D. Journeyman Mechanic and yes , they service _everything_ ~ the Undercover Cops hoon / thrash the living crap out of the BMW’s , Lexus’ Porsches , Cadillacs (? Lexi ?) and so on then drive / drag them into Central Facility on Wall Street , skid row L.A. where they’re fixed then sent back out for more playtime .

          I have no idea how much L.A.P.D. used this program but back in the 1980’s they confiscated Porches and Ferrari’s along with plebeian VW’s , Camaros etc. all were used in Undercover work and serviced In House .

          Even picked up a cherry twin engine Beechcraft to augment the beat up old Cessna 150 .

          In any case , the continual abuses by various LEO’s make this a welcome change .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            Does the LAPD still have the Northrup F-5?* Where do they get that serviced?

            *As seen in the movie “Dragnet”

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          ….now they have to be CONVICTED drug dealers and not just suspected
          ….

          Well, that is refreshing – a balanced voice of reason. Theft is theft – keep your damn hands of private property until found guilty. Sure things may have to be held until outcome of case, but until then the gov’t or law enforcement should be forced to keep the confiscated items in the exact same condition they were found in. Found guilty? Have at it.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Jack claims that when he was a pharma rep he had a 6mt Cayenne turbo, so this isn’t nearly nice enough for a drug dealer.

        I wish they were paying a BMW dealer, it would be a lot less money than some government parasite mechanic that will retire at 50 with a bloated pension.

        All the lazy, no ambition people I know, that I like, I tell to become cops. It beats working for a living.

        Do the fat f_ck cops of Fairfax even know how many margarita machines they could have bought if they sold this thing at auction?

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        I appreciate how defensive and offended, these genuine concerns and criticisms have effected el scotto for what I presume will be the rest of his life.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s also a moving billboard for “Your Tax Dollars at Work”, by the little message they put on the back, “CONFISCATED FROM A DRUG DEALER” or something to that effect. I don’t mind that one bit.

      My city has a Tacoma 4X4 SR5, hard loaded, for the same reason. It fell in their lap, so they put it to good use. Makes sense to me. They couldn’t get anything like it, for what they could get for it at auction.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “CONFISCATED FROM A *CONVICTED* DRUG DEALER”

        There, the Justice Dept. fixed it for you

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Don’t drive angry.

          http://www.quotes333.com/groundhog-day-2015-quotes-dont-drive-angry.html

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Ah, my Precious, don’t you know it’s “Guilty ’til proven NOT Guilty? There is no “Proven Innocent”, btw.

          But we’e talking “drug dealers”, not some dude carrying enough to be cons!dered “with intent to sell”. LE won’t ‘move’ on a “drug dealer” until they have mountains of evidence.

          Obviously there’s no such thing as a case that can’t be beaten. So if the department is confiscating a perp’s property and using it as their own, they can always give it back. Peel the stickers, pull the light bar, etc. Never an apology either. If the property is auctioned off, there’s no getting it back.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yeah, but there is a rich history in America where people were convicted of an alleged crime and later found to be innocent.

            In America we have a record that clearly illustrates that “it is better to put an innocent man in prison than to let a guilty man go free.”

            Kinda makes me wonder just how many people were executed who were not guilty of the crime they were accused of committing.

            And I am pro death penalty. Still, I wouldn’t want an innocent person to be wrongly executed.

            That’s no better than a Klan lynching.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I’m not convinced it’s not far worse to keep a human locked up for life than execution. Not that I’m for the death penalty, but it’s far more humane to execute him/her early. It’s never OK to lock up a human for life, even if they’re guilty of 1st degree murder. If they’re habitual offenders (rape, murder, crimes against children), then yeah, they need to be separated from society permanently, one way or another.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        May this never happen to you.

        http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2014/12/civil_forfeiture_on_the_rise_in_mercer_county_drawing_criticism.html

        Under New Jersey’s civil forfeiture law, property can be taken by law enforcement if police determine that it was used in the commission of a crime – such as in the Hamilton case – or if it was purchased with the proceeds of a crime. But most disturbing to critics and civil libertarians, the move to take property sometimes can be done without criminal charges being filed.

        “In fact, we don’t even have to have to charge anyone at all,” McMurtry said on the training video.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/highway-seizure-in-iowa-fuels-debate-about-asset-forfeiture-laws/2014/11/10/10f725fc-5ec3-11e4-8b9e-2ccdac31a031_story.html

        The two men in the rented red Nissan Altima were poker players traveling through Iowa on their way to Las Vegas. The police were state troopers on the hunt for criminals, contraband and cash.

        They intersected last year on a rural stretch of Interstate 80, in a seemingly routine traffic stop that would soon raise new questions about laws that allow police to take money and property from people not charged with crimes.

        By the time the encounter was over, the gamblers had been detained for more than two hours. Their car was searched without a warrant. And their cellphones, a computer and $100,020 of their gambling “bankroll” were seized under state civil asset-forfeiture laws.

        http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111230/NEWS21/112300325/-1/rss36

        Russ Caswell remembers driving a bulldozer at age 11 to help clear farmland for his father to build the Motel Caswell in the 1950s.

        Six decades later, the family’s $57-per-night budget motel is a sought-after property, not because of the cheap accommodations, but because the federal government says it is a magnet for drug deals.

        Caswell is fighting a move by the U.S. Department of Justice to take his motel under a law that allows for the forfeiture of properties connected to crimes. In Caswell’s case, the government is not claiming that Caswell committed any crimes, but says the motel should be shut down because of the drug-dealing that goes on among its guests.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Is today April 1st?

  • avatar
    carve

    This is a prime example why new laws and new powers given to government will always be abused to the utmost of what is possible, and for unintended reasons. This one was particularly bad since you were guilty until proven innocent. Very third world.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      It is also an example of how some administrations will respond to public outcry and pull back on those powers.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        I doubt it’s because of any outcry – that has been going on for years longer than Eric Holder has held his office. He could have done this 6 years ago, if “some administration” really cared. Why he waited until now, post Ferguson, is not a mystery.

        That it took a political slap-fight for the right thing to be done is a prime example of the wisdom of Uncle Milton:

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Yes this was federal justice department action to reduce the power of local law enforcement.

          An example of action by the police to retaliate against a political opponent is the NYPD slowing down writing tickets for minor violations, reducing the revenue New York City receives from the police.

          http://nypost.com/2014/12/29/arrests-plummet-following-execution-of-two-cops/

          “…Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.

          Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.

          Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241…”

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            All part of the slap-fight. Although Why Holder felt the need to “punish” law-enforcement throughout the country for the actions of NYPD officers is a mystery.

            For whatever reasons, it is the right thing to do, as many left, right, and center consider the practice to be a fundamental violation of the 4th Amendment. That consensus makes it politically profitable to limit or remove it. And that’s the crux of my argument: Make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          While it’s true this practice had been going on for a while, it’s no exaggeration to say that this is the first time that it’s been widely known. The Washington Post ran a series of articles on it in September that received a huge amount of attention; John Oliver based a whole show about the practice a month later, presumably triggered off of the Post story; the New York Times reported on it in November; and our very own TTAC picked up the story immediately thereafter. The role of an independent media is precisely to find out about and highlight this sort of abusive government practice, and while there are too few examples of it fulfilling its role these days, you won’t find a better example than this.

          As for Ferguson, you’re barking up the wrong tree entirely. Post-Ferguson, the dialog was about increased militarization of police forces, including with surplus military equipment like armored personnel carriers. Nobody was paying attention to the cops confiscating protesters’ cars, if that happened at all.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            I was first made aware of these abuses about 20 years ago from a segment on 60 Minutes; so no, it’s not a recent phenomenon.

            As to post Ferguson, it’s the increased general attention on police “abuses” in general. This is low hanging fruit, so to speak. Why do you think all these pieces you reference (and thus the renewed attention) were written after August and not before?

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            Respectfully, this is not about you, and I said so explicitly: it’s about whether it was “widely known.” Whether or not you knew about it based on a 60 Minutes piece from the 90’s, or someone else knew about it from the 2013 New Yorker piece, it didn’t really come up as a matter of widespread public concern until this year and the _Post_ series, including the revelation that ex-law enforcement officers were actively training police agencies to take advantage of the laws by seizing desirable property. If you want a stark illustration of this, look up “civil forfeiture” on Google Trends, where you basically have years of next-to-no activity, followed by a massive spike this fall, centered in D.C.:

            http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=civil+forfeiture&cmpt=q&geo=US

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        “It is also an example of how some administrations will respond to public outcry and pull back on those powers.”

        Wait, what?

  • avatar

    According to what I’ve read, even though police can still seize assets under state law, it’s much less appealing because the federal program gave the money directly to the police agency, while state seizures give the money to the general fund, so it benefits the police a lot less.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Yes madanthony, several states have made reforms to their state level civil asset forfeiture laws, but local police departments were evading those reforms by using the federal program.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    About time.. It was already over the top. What about the poor saps that lost or are in the process of losing their homes to the old incentive driven system? At least sanity prevailed here. Will they be grandfathered in or out?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This will bring out TTAC’s “F-the-popo” crowd in droves. I’m glad that the gov’t, be it state or federal confiscates drug dealers cars. 5 keys of whatever in the car and they weren’t doing anything illegal? Sure.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Well that is certainly your right but I’m personally never going to support government confiscation and reuse of property before a conviction.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        maybe I am not understanding fully the story, but doesn’t this STILL allow the Feds to take without convictions but are keeping the booty from the locals?
        It seems more of a Holder slap at the states than an actual reform in total.

    • 0 avatar
      cartunez

      Problem is bootlicker they weren’t targeting drug dealers they were attacking rank and file citizens who couldn’t afford to fight back. So yeah “F-The-Popo”. Next time do some research on civil forfeiture abuses.

      • 0 avatar
        Halftruth

        You call him a bootlicker? hahaha I am dying over here..

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        “Bootlicker”, you’re quite the droll one; please bring on more bon mots. Alas poor cartunez I CAN AFFORD to fight back. Please, don’t you have to clock back in after your fast-food lunch? Civil forfeiture? Seems so unfortunate for so few. Your spittle-lipped comments on this and egregious paranoia makes one think you where personally involved with this whole sordid ordeal.

        • 0 avatar
          mik101

          Your comments just show how ignorant you are about Civil Forfeiture. Feel free to do some reading on the subject, and get a clue, or go back to your boot-licking.

          They were taking cash whether there was anything illegal going on or not. Go back to living under your rock.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      el scotto: I think most would agree that the vast majority of police are honorable folks. However, when a few bad apples decide to make the news and degrade the good name of policing by abusing a program such as civil forfeiture then the government needs to act. Its better to do without this program than allow it to erode the image of law enforcement.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It’s not wise to make it easy for the police to seize your personal property, or to give them incentives so that they want to do it. We want them to catch criminals, not turn a profit.

      In any case, it would be wise to consider whether some of these drug-related activities should be illegal in the first place. Turning drug usage from a medical problem into a crime only makes it highly profitable (and violent) for dodgy people, while it distracts law enforcement from doing more useful work.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The problem is deciding who is a drug dealer. That’s why have a judicial system in place. Guilty until proven innocent isn’t the American way.

    • 0 avatar
      honda_lawn_art

      But sometimes, often actually, they’re not drug dealers. Your frantic comments make it sound for a moment that you supported this blatant violation of the IV amendment. And you may not be alone, except that it’s understood many people had their property seized and weren’t charged with a crime, and had no significant criminal record. What part of the IV Amendment is so hard to understand?

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Do you have proof for your 1st sentence? Can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. They don’t have to be charged with a crime; just facilitating or allowing one to occur. Hookers doing lines in hotel room at the hotel you own? So sorry. I say lawyer up and go drink at your club. Feel free to borrow a magic marker for your protest poster.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Asset forfeiture doesn’t require a conviction. The government files a lawsuit against the property (hence, the civil part) and seizes it; it is up to the property owner to provide a legal defense for the asset that was seized.

          Because the taking of the property is a civil matter, it is not subject to the Fourth Amendment, i.e. there is no free lawyer nor a presumption of innocence. No civil libertarian should be happy about this.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Whether it be criminal or civil, because the State will be exercising its coercive power either way, the same standards of evidence and procedure should apply.

            Use the criminal law standards for civil proceedings. After all, if the matter is a big enough deal to get the government involved, then strong safeguards should be used.

          • 0 avatar
            wolfinator

            I think it’s pretty clear from his comments that el scotto is not a civil libertarian. And he has no idea what civil forfeiture is or how it works.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …..Asset forfeiture doesn’t require a conviction. The government files a lawsuit against the property (hence, the civil part) and seizes it; it is up to the property owner to provide a legal defense for the asset that was seized…..

            Amazing, isn’t it? Sometimes I get depressed at how pathetic the “land of the free” really is. Better than most, probably. But we should be doing better. And elscotto, laugh all you want about a magic marker and a poster. Dissent is probably the most patriotic thing an American can do. Years of progress have been built on those who threw down the gauntlet and said “F-You”

          • 0 avatar
            LuciferV8

            “No civil libertarian should be happy about this.”

            No American citizen in general should be happy about this.

        • 0 avatar
          beefmalone

          The butthurt is gonna be SO STRONG when karma bites you in the ass after some crackhead gets busted making meth in one of your rental properties and it gets seized. It’s a shame you won’t come back afterwards to apologize for being an ignorant douchebag, but we will all take comfort in knowing that your turn is definitely coming.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Wow ~

            You’re certainly fixated on the anal sex aspect here , are you trying to tell us something about your chosen lifestyle perhaps ? .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            It already has happened to me. Meth Lab caught on fire in a luxury condo. Forfeiture threats bandied about. Legal paper dropped. Many lawyers involved. Yes, I still own it and receive rent checks every month. Now please to explain who is the ignorant d-bag? I await you laser-like analysis and clever repartee.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Was the condo mortgaged?

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “5 keys of whatever…”

      Then it ought to be easy to impound the car, the evidence, get a conviction and then move on to final seizure, no?

      Haven’t you followed this story at all? In many cases, they weren’t seizing cars loaded with “5 keys” of anything interesting, they were seizing cash and cars from people because they had cash and cars and that was enough to satisfy the civil forfeiture requirements. No proof of any actual wrongdoing… None.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ” I’m glad that the gov’t, be it state or federal confiscates drug dealers cars.”

      What part of “innocent until proven guilty” are you having a problem with and why?

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Lie2me, responding to your earlier post. I couldn’t find a reply tab. No, the whole building was built and paid for in cash and owned by a property management partnership The burned out condo and all surrounding condos had to be re-mediated,i.e clean of any and all meth residue. Noises where made about civil forfeiture and initial paper was dropped. An expensive, 10’s of thousands of dollars, legal fight ensued. Ain’t nothing like paying for the drinks in a pissing contest. My second rental property; rinse, lather, repeat. The only exception was that I was the sole owner.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      El scotto, this is a very interesting comment from you, cons!diering you advocate traveling around in a blacked out Tahoe with lots of guns and a laptop open on the seat at a gas station. Not for any particular purpose, other than scaring people and challenging police.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Finally a step in the right direction. Next stop eliminate the special privilege these costumed thugs have and install a system that has real accountability.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Did “these costumed thugs” make you suffer from a lowered sense of self-esteem that in the end made you feel even more dis-empowered? I’m quite sure that you should use TTAC to espouse all you “butt-hurt” feelings and a glimmer of hope will filter through your mind that we as a whole might feel sympathy or commiseration over your self-confessed “butt-hurt”.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        It’s obvious you have very little interaction or observance of actual law enforcement officers. The strong majority are good, decent folks who take a very hard job seriously and with honor. But there is also a wing who are privileged thugs and expect the rest of their departments to not only tolerate their illicit and illegal behavior, but also to help cover it up.

        /former state trooper

  • avatar
    danio3834

    With these apparent funding cuts, perhaps a reduction in headcount at some of these specialized agencies is in order.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It would be nice if each and every agency didn’t have its own SWAT team. At the federal level, even the Department of Education and the Forest Service have their own. Somehow, I can’t imagine most of these agencies having more than a very occasional need for them, so why not consolidate and use the Justice Department team?

  • avatar
    Joebaldheadedgranny

    Last year the chief of police, the former chief, and about half the active cops on the King City, CA police force along with the owner of a tow yard were arrested for illegally seizing and then remarketing vehicles for their personal gain. The owner of the tow yard received 90% of the city’s police tows, and in exchange cops received car and title to one of every five vehicles seized, mostly from undocumented aliens.

    The incredibly lucrative pensions the LEO’s receive after 30 years service was obviously not enough to keep them on the straight and narrow.

    King City is a smaller town on the 101 highway- maybe 20K residents.

    I understand that most civil servants do their level best to faithfully execute their offices, but I also suspect that a significant minority of towns across the US are corrupted. It wasn’t anyone’s intention probably, but we got to be this way, and now we all need to hold our local and state governments accountable.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      No kidding ? .

      I used to go on the annual ” No Frills Iron Butt Motoring Tours ” , we’d stay in a Hotel in King City and utilize the many excellent back roads there for two or three days of Automotive insanity .

      I never had any hassles with the Cops as we tried hard to not piss off the locals and not crash…

      Res , R&R or maybe C&D did an article on it one year and that’s me in my copper colored ’67 VW Beetle next to Ed in his 356 Porsche .

      That’s a sad thing to hear that they stooped so low .

      King City is a nice quiet town , pleasant to visit .

      -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Thinx

      King City is also one of the most notorious speed-traps along Highway 101.

      The constabulary liked to hide around some bends in the road along the river and were known for issuing tickets whenever they could. Since most of the traffic is people traveling between San Francisco and Los Angeles, tickets are rarely contested in traffic court – which makes it a great source of easy revenue.

      Every time I went through there (with my cruise control set to five miles UNDER the limit), I have seen at least two or three police cars lying in wait.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personally, I like the UK’s system of dealing with confiscated properties from convicted druggies, etc. They flat-out destroy them so they can never again be used for that purpose or any other. Nobody–but nobody–gets any benefit from the drug money spent to purchase/build it.

    Now, to be quite honest, this should happen to ALL properties owned/used by the drug trade in any way. And much as I hate to do this, it includes rented or leased properties as well. The ultimate lender should be able to make claim through insurance, but even said lender should be punished for not paying better attention to how the property is used.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Is that satire? It’s hard to tell on the internet.

    • 0 avatar
      wolfinator

      I agree. Destroying many human lifetimes’ worth of wealth is clearly the correct social response to someone, somewhere, getting high. It’s especially worth it if the wealth destruction happens to people like landlords who have nothing to do with any crime.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Your last paragraph would make any bank holding a mortgage or the landlord (more probable example)an accessory to any drug related crimes at said residence. Last I knew, banks don’t drop by at 8 on a Thursday night just to see “how you where doing”. Landlords have leases in their rental contracts forbidding illegal drug activity of any kind. Meth labs are expensive to get cleaned up by a state-approved cleaning company. It happened at a couple of my rental properties.

      • 0 avatar
        mik101

        There we go, we found the real reasoning you’re so butt hurt. You can’t find good tenants.

        Hint: Don’t be a slumlord. I’m surprised the local police didn’t seize your property so they could have a hangout.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          What do you recommend? el scotto should perform surprise inspections every other day?

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Try requiring a FICO score of 700 or greater to be considered for renting property. People responsible with credit are unlikely to be opening a meth lab in your basement. Why not ask? Employers ask for it and they frankly have no right to it, so join in and you will weed out the bad risks.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You could also make them take a pee test

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Sorry, but one lab was at a lakeside luxury condo. 50 yards from the boat dock and access to a private golf course. At the trial I found out my renter was having some cash problems. The 2nd place was built in the 20s, updated electric, new plumbing and HVAC and in a good neighborhood. Neither place was Section 8, not that I do that anyway.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Read the story.

    Read the comments.

    clap – clap

    I’m out.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Still too little, and decades too late, but better than a sharp stick in the eye.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    But….but….ISIS!!!!!!?!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” Hint: Don’t be a slumlord. I’m surprised the local police didn’t seize your property so they could have a hangout.”

    That’s an ignorant and childish comment ~ one doesn’t always live in an ivory tower like you , many are trying hard to climb the financial ladder by buying , renovating and renting properties .

    I never had druggies but Blue Collar Rentals have this issue , not the Landlord’s fault .

    L.A.P.D. seized quite a few crappy houses no one wanted in South Central Los Angeles , older owners who’d owned them since the 1960’s when those neighborhoods were still nice , they had no money to fight back and lost their tiny bit of income property for nothing ~ no reduction in crime , no benefit to the Community nor the L.A.P.D. as these same unsellable properties were then abandoned and left to rot and become ‘ shooting galleries’ , squats and so on .

    Talk about waking up and getting a grip .

    Try thinki9ng beyond the ability of a 12 year old .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    Bootlicker,

    Let me tell you a little story about civil forfeiture in a town where one of my buddies lives. The Sheriff in the town responded to a call at a neighbor’s house and they saw a pot plant on the porch of this guy’s house which somehow gave them the ability to raid his house, whatever. They went in his basement where he had a small amount of marijuana plants growing, very small, personal use. He also had a brand new Mustang which the Sheriff liked very much so he seized it and used it as his personal vehicle along with the words emblazoned on the side “seized from a drug dealer”. Mind you this old man was never a drug dealer, never charged with any crime, he was in fact a retired auto worker with cancer and his wife a working RN. They were also white. The marijuana was for his personal use to treat his cancer.

    The Sheriff got continual criticism all the time for taking their vehicle that after a little after a year and a half he ended up selling it.

    This civil forfeiture nonsense quite frankly is downright unconstitutional and the public just got tired with it and they had to do something. As long as they are taking from black or Hispanic people generally the public and people like yourself say nothing and say these guys deserve it, but when they start taking from guys like yourself, it is usually when things change and people start getting irate and that is exactly what happened.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      This is not as uncommon as you think

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Ain’t that the truth. The hatred now surfacing against years of police abuse is just beginning. I really do believe most cops really are professionals and sadly some have been turned into tax collectors with McTicket operations against their will. But the numbers of bad have been growing unchecked. And it looks like civil demonstrations are just the beginning. Maybe there will be some changes within departments that will actually weed out those bad ones.

      • 0 avatar
        mmmach1

        If you using, growing, making illegal drugs I imagine it does,

    • 0 avatar
      mmmach1

      Uh OK he was growing an illegal drug “pot” in his basement and on front porch but “he wasn’t doing anything wrong”? Ya right. If he was making meth then would you think it was OK? Those rotten cops enforcing the law!

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        For one meth and pot are not the same drug so trying to imply they are the same is ignorant. If someone with cancer wants to grow some pot to help with his cancer ordeal, who cares, it is hurting no one. He was not now or ever accused of selling, or caught selling pot or charged with selling pot so there are no grounds for seizure of his property. Can you explain to me how growing some pot for your personal needs is grounds for seizure of someone’s car, especially when both the husband and wife have verifiable income for two good jobs?

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          It starts with a possession charge and then the cliff of ugliness goes vertical after that.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          Most jurisdictions’ laws are written that possession over X amount of marijuana (generally greater than a few ounces) is possession with intent to distribute. Likewise, from your description, it seems as though this guy had a sizable growing operation going on in his basement which would put his quantity definitely over that amount.

          Regardless of your feeling on the validity or necessity of the law itself, he was knowingly breaking the law and had left evidence in plain view. Should his car have been impounded? No, absolutely not. However, I can’t fault the cops for raiding the house when they see a live marijuana plant in the window. If you’re going to break the law at least be smart about it.

          I see from your further comments he was not charged. He definitely could have been charged and probably easily convicted with possession and intent to distribute based on quantity alone, so this indeed looks like a shakedown.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      A pot plant sitting on the front porch is reasonable cause for a search warrant. Something illegal and in plain sight that a reasonable person walking down the street can see. I’m sure they found grow lights and more pot plants in the basement. That compounded/made worse the reasonable cause search warrant and produced more evidence. It sucks that he has cancer. Growing pot on your front porch is stupid. Unlike your buddy I fought my forfeitures and won both. I am deeply offended that you are accusing me of be a racist in your last paragraph. When you’ve been through the grinder I might listen to what you have to say.

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        I did not say that they were not within their rights to search the home and obviously there were grow lights in the basement if plants were being grown down there and I stated they were only a small amount for personal use. The point is it was for personal use, they knew it and he was not arrested, nor accused of nor charged with selling pot to anyone. This was nothing more than a shakedown in the purest sense of the word, if the man was breaking the law and they thought he was truly doing so, then they should have arrested him and charged him with a crime, which is not what they are doing. They are eyeballing your assets and figuring out how to get them using threats. That is a shakedown. Then on top of that the Sheriff slandered this man by writing on the side of the car “seized from a drug dealer” when clearly this man was not one.

        Another point about this is that if the police and people that support this sort of behavior think this is legitimate and the people this stuff is being taken from are criminals, then basically you are saying that you can buy justice and your way out of jail if you have money or assets and if you are poor then though luck, off to prison which in itself is corruption at its finest. Suspect A has $10,000 so he is not charged with a crime, Suspect B has $0 so he is charged and goes to prison, both did the same thing. Do you think that is fair, legal, ethical?

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          What part of possession of marijuana don’t you underdstand?

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            You still have not explained to me why possession of marijuana is grounds for the taking of someone’s property? If that is the case then all of the property of about a third of the population of this country should be seized based on your logic.

            The marijuana was in his house and he was not selling it to anyone. The car had absolutely nothing to do with anything since it was not like he was pulled over in it with marijuana so the car’s only fault was that it was a nice new Mustang that the Sheriff took a fancy to.

            If your kid or grandkid got pulled over in your car with some pot do you think that the government should be able to take your car?

            Funny thing is you seem to be adamant that it is okay to take someone’s property for possessing pot, but I have yet to see you make a comment stating this guy should have been arrested or that you even think he should be arrested. If you think that it is okay to take this man’s property then you should be demanding he be arrested and put in prison also, don’t you think?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            As I explained elsewhere, civil asset forfeiture laws have been on the books since George Washington was president, and the Supreme Court has ruled them to be constitutional.

            It doesn’t require a charge against a person; the asset that is seized is what is charged with the crime. The burden of proof is on the property owner to defend the property against the charges, and being an innocent human is not a defense under federal law.

            If you don’t like it (and you shouldn’t), then Congress needs to fix it. But again, these laws have been on the books in one form or another since the early days of the Constitution; they have since been expanded as part of the war on drugs. Tell your Congressmen that you want them changed.

          • 0 avatar
            clivesl

            What part of “never charged” don’t you understand?

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          What part of “possession of marijuana” don’t you understand? “Suspect A has $10,000 so he is not charged with a crime, Suspect B has $0 so he is charged and goes to prison, both did the same thing. Do you think that is fair, legal, ethical?” Welcome to the real world, such things happen everyday. A blue collar person gets a DUI, they do jail time (some) and all the associated hoo-haw that goes with it. The person with 10k; lawyers up, admits they have a “problem”, no jail time, and a rehab program. Poor guy get in a bar on Friday night; he’s in jail until he bails out on Monday morning. The 10k guy walks out on Saturday morning, his lawyer has fresh coffee and the paper.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Irrespective of what may have happened in your personal example, there are other people who have had their assets taken even though no charges have been filed.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        @el scotto, I’m trying to be sympathetic to your situation, but your only giving us vague information. It’s been my understanding that legit rental properties, mortgaged properties or any property that’s encumbered is difficult to seize and therefore avoided by civil forfeiture seeking police. Police generally take what’s easy and don’t want to fight banks

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Lie2me, thank you. The condo building was paid for when it was built, that was part of the partnership deal. My family owned a construction company, the deal was expensive upfront but how the land owner and partner wanted it built. We used the best legal firm in the state and that firm consulted with another top firm. Very expensive and very serious. Then the lawyer old boy network kicked in. Back channel talks occurred along the lines of “oh you want to work in the big firm with a plush office and an expense account and not be some half-assed state attorney with a metal desk? You should think twice about proceeding.” Ugly? Yes and the willingness to show that they’d would fight made the state think twice. We had to explain to our partner one year that it was cheaper to buy a truck that was financed through the makers finance arm. No one would care if he paid off the truck next week, it was still a better deal.

          • 0 avatar
            Exfordtech

            Is that really the manner in which you want individual property rights to be protected in this country? Why don’t we just reinstate the quartering acts and take away habeus corpus for good measure. The founding fathers must be rolling in their graves.
            Ben Franklin:”Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
            4th Amendment:”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.”
            If you somehow believe that allowing your government the ability to seize property without due process is ok, with only on the suspicion of a crime, not an actual conviction of a crime, then I would count you among those that would sacrifice liberty for security and deserve neither.

  • avatar
    Lack Thereof

    I think this is the same program John Oliver was slamming in a bit a few months back:

    http://youtu.be/3kEpZWGgJks

    “Civil asset forfeiture is really a mechanism by which the state and federal government can seize people’s property without having to convict them of a crime”

  • avatar
    raph

    NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    This comment section is a treatise on how the law and order right-wing is at odds with the more aggressive anti-government types within their ranks. They fight back and forth because one hand they want all of ‘those people’ kept in line and see the police as their tool to that end. But then the Tea Party anti-government types view the police as a storm trooper just for government use (though they can’t seem to figure out who the government actually is beyond some obtuse bogeyman). It’s been an entertaining read to say the least.

    To be fair, civil forfeiture laws haven’t gained any real public outcry until the last few years so Holder is right about on time with this and this isn’t some ‘Ferguson distraction’ or ‘police union attack’ since it doesn’t affect the major city units so much as it affects little towns and random stop light towns that live and die by stealing property from individuals. As a citizen who believes in innocent until proven guilty I recognize the right to hold property as evidence or as a preventative measure to keep it from being used to finance further criminal activity but the fact that it was punitive without any decree to justify it just makes my skin crawl. But continue the raging attitudes at each other, I’ll merely be taking notes.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The press has given us VERY little coverage of asset forfeiture issues. Most people are unlikely to even know about it. I remember 60 Minutes did a segment on it, and sent a producer to an airport to flash a wad of cash, and recorded two agents confronting him. The producer was black, and when he told them he worked for 60 Minutes they backed off, but the segment gave the impression it was a racial issue, not a constitutional rights issue.

      We can blame the Supreme Court for its inability to understand the meaning of the 4th amendment and refusing to uphold a challenge to the law. They put their foot down in one specific case of a Hawaii resident convicted of a drug crime and jailed. After he served his time, a relative died and left him a house in Oahu worth over $1 million, and the feds tried to seize it. Scotus slapped down the attempted house seizure, and that should have told them asset forfeiture should have been struck down.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        It’s been getting press in the left-wing news circles for the last few years. But it has been picking up steam as MoJo and TPM have ran pieces in the last year or so. It’s not been a nightly news segment issue but if you follow the more in-depth places it’s been getting some coverage. Again, it smacks of a slow-rolling buildup that just came to a head recently.

        To be fair, Holder did what he could legally do due to Federalism. I agree, the Supreme Court should have handled this a number of years ago. The 4th amendment actually does protect you from having your property seized permanently without conviction.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Asset forfeiture has been legal since George Washington was president.

          The Supreme Court believes it to be constitutional. There is no constitutional problem because the offender is a thing, not a person. (Things don’t have constitutional rights.)

          If Americans want change, then it will have to come from Congress. Yeah, good luck with that.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            Pch101, since most law enforcement occurs at the local level, it doesn’t take an act of congress to change civil asset forfeiture laws. States can require tougher standards of proof before seizure of cash in a traffic stop, for example. Requiring the seized assets go to the state general fund instead of local law enforcement greatly reduces the incentives for policing for profit. Local voters can also remove corrupt sheriffs and government officials from office.

            I’m also not so negative about the prospects for reform to federal laws. It’s the kind of issue where both libertarian-leaning Republicans and liberal Democrats could support the same bill.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            “Asset forfeiture has been legal since George Washington was president.”

            Pch101, you keep saying that, and you’re wrong. Before the asset forfeiture law was passed, a search warrant was required, seizure of materials specified in the warrant was temporary possession as evidence, and materials not illegal, not used in the commission of a crime (and conviction) and not acquired through illegal acts, were returned to the rightful owners. That’s not the procedure or practice under the current asset forfeiture law.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Civil asset forfeiture was included in a 1789 law that regulated import tariffs. It gave customs officials the right to seize goods if the officials believed that there was an attempt to commit fraud on the amount of tariff that was due.

            (For historical context, import tariffs were a primary source of revenue at that time and tariffs were high, so the incentives to collect and avoid paying tariffs were high on both sides.)

            No warrant was required, plus the owner of the goods was still responsible for them while they were being held. Sorry, but you’re wrong on the facts.

    • 0 avatar
      PentastarPride

      I lean toward the camp within the ‘right-wing’ that generally consider the police as out of control. I’m not necessarily talking about an officer getting rough with someone who resists arrest, for example–in that case, the idiot got what he/she deserved.

      I’m talking about the entitled attitude towards the public. It can be in many forms: in the form of feeling entitled to go against the rule of law, for example. Or, because I wear a badge, I should get paid “a lot!” to do so. Not every one of our men and women in blue are like this, but quite a bit are.

      Here’s a great anecdote. A while ago, I had an interesting conversation with someone who was an officer in my particular area while in line at a grocery store. I happened to be wearing a T-shirt that the local CPAC sold to its members. On it were “vote ‘NO’ for police, fire and school levies”. This was during local elections. This individual told me that “he is trying to feed his three young kids” and that I “should reconsider” my vote.

      Neverminding the fact that every year–like clockwork–the city and county governments in my particular area panhandles the voters and then proceeds to squander the funds away like a drunken gambler.

      Not. My. Problem.

      He didn’t look indiguous to me, kind of like many of the welfare recipients I see from time to time. He was wearing an Aeropostale shirt (and we all know how much clothes from Aeropostale cost), designer jeans, designer sunglasses. Later on, I spot him in the parking lot loading his groceries into a newer Tahoe with the whole works (lift, rims, modified headlights and taillights, window tint…).

      Tough to state your case when you’re wearing a $40 shirt, $100 sunglasses, $150 pair of jeans and $150 pair of tennis shoes, huh? Tough to feel sorry for someone driving around in a $40k gas guzzler?

      Sounds like a personal finance issue that’s Not. My. Problem.

      You know the drill. Make a livable middle class salary, live like a millionaire. Oh, all of the sudden, I don’t make enough to support this lifestyle! (This goes for everybody, though, not just public sector workers).

      I will admit that I am not a parent (nor will I ever be one) and I do understand that it takes money to raise children, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Last time I checked, an officer *starts* at almost $60k. And this guy claims to “struggle” to feed his children? Don’t forget healthcare, pension, and all of the other sundries. That’s perfectly livable. What an individual does with his/her paycheck is entirely up to his/herself.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        >He was wearing an Aeropostale shirt (and we all know how much clothes from Aeropostale cost)

        As far as clothes go, Aeropostale is actually pretty cheap on the grand scheme of things, like $15 for a T-shirt. Far less than Abercrombie or American Eagle at least.

        Also, an adult wearing Aeropostale? That stuff is for high school kids.

    • 0 avatar
      jrmason

      “since it doesn’t affect the major city units so much as it affects little towns and random stop light towns that live and die by stealing property from individuals”

      I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you’ve never lived in rural America.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Nope, I chose to live in civilization. I should take that back, I lived in Flagstaff for a year on a visiting Professorship and frankly that is a rather rural area considering the city is tiny and the surrounding communities range from 30K down to less than 10. Trust me, the biggest funnels are little towns using a random stop to search and take property. Big cities may use it as a bonus system but the majority of their funding is allocated by virtue of the citizenry.

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      @ Xera:

      “but the fact that it was punitive without any decree to justify it just makes my skin crawl”

      Agreed.

      I suppose this is one of those precious few issues that folks like you and I can actually agree on.

      By all means, take as many notes as you want. Heaven knows I’ve been keeping up on the internecine warfare of the left myself, so I can’t hold this against you.

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    It isn’t a few bad apples. And it isn’t a few rogue cops. There are consulting firms that train departments in aggressive interdiction, specializing in cash. Here is a web page of one of the firms: https://desertsnow.com

    An Example: “After the Kansas Highway Patrol arranged sessions through Desert Snow for state and local police in 2005 and 2006, the amount of cash flowing into police budgets from seizures nearly doubled, from an average of $2.6 million a year between 2000 and 2006 to $4.9 million a year after 2007.”

    This has become a significant profit center for police departments. DC has expected forfeiture proceeds in their budget.

    I am a capitalist, but the abuses that occur when private firms are involved in law enforcement are nauseating. To name a few – aside from the obvious like red light cameras:

    1. Jail phone contracts that charge prisoners to pay $1.00 per minute. The calls are all, naturally, collect. And the families of the prisoners end up paying. Often grandmothers. In fact, it has been jokingly referred to as the Grandmother Tax. The private firm and the jail split the profits. Not a huge thing in a world with wars, &c. A lot of jail inmates can’t raise bail. And sticking their family with another $100 cost is sickening. Just because it is so petty.

    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal This is the single worst abuse of judicial power I have ever heard of. Incarcerating a juvenal for money is child abuse. And just for money.

    OK …. parking tickets as a profit center is just a parking ticket. Any part of the criminal justice system that is involved with private firms and produces revenue is ripe for abuse. The government alone is capable of creating problems … but the private parties that help them profit for profit — evil for lack of a better word.

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    Anyone really interested in this subject should read the entire Washington Post series on this. Excellent investigative journalism.

    And why did they do it now instead of earlier? The Post articles very likely had a lot to do with it.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Two comments:
    1. So many theorize, spout off,and sound like Starbucks Sartres without having any experience and I do mean exactly zero experience with civil forfeiture procedures. No, I don’t mean my cousin knew this guy who knew a guy in another town this really, really happened to babble. I mean real experience with this issue. If not, I bid you good day Sir/Ma’am. Please read my earlier comments about my rental properties for clarification

    2. Now this is important! Do I appeal to Derek or Cameron or Jack to get my TTAC handle changed to “bootlicker”? Just curious here.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    if nothing else good comes from this administration’s justice department … this is enough of a legacy.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Not quite as good as originally thought but still maybe opening the door to this injustice can help close this theft ring. http://reason.com/blog/2015/01/19/how-the-press-exaggerated-holders-forfei

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Oh no…not this time. I’m not getting sucked into another one of these. More Junkyard articles and brown cars, less guns and cops. The internets are full of politics should I be so inclined.

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