Traffic Stops Illegally Used To Seize Money From Drivers
What would you do if you were driving back from a casino or just a really high-stakes game of Bingo, and a cop pulled you over and took all of your winnings legally without any guilt on your end? I suspect you would be like me and be rather irate about it. Well, in Nevada and plenty of other states, there is a lot of this happening, and the police are raking in the dough because of it. But now, the citizens are fighting back.
Enter in Tan Nguyen, a man that claims he was on his way to a cousin’s house in California after winning $50,000 at a local casino and as he headed through Humboldt County, Nevada, Deputy Lee Dove pulled him over for doing — get this — 78 in a 75-mph zone. Dove then searched Nguyen’s car and Nguyen opened a briefcase for the deputy, exposing the $50,000 he was carrying. Dove then claimed to smell marijuana in the car and made Nguyen sign a "property for safekeeping receipt," which basically says "here, take my stuff without any criminal charges, because he thought the money was illegally obtained. Nguyen claims he only signed the form under the threat that Dove would confiscate his car and leave him stranded if he hadn’t.
After that was all said and done, Dove warned Nguyen about speeding and left without citing him for anything, but kept the money. The next day, Dove was pictured next to the money with a caption that read: "This cash would have been used to purchase illegal drugs and now will benefit Humboldt County with training and equipment. Great job."
Dove then did the same thing three months later to Ken Smith, as after pulling him over and running a warrant check, he found that a man with that name had a warrant out. Dove detained Smith, swindled him out of over $13,000 and a 0.40 -caliber handgun, and let him go. What’s more, the Ken Smith in question is a white man and the one in the warrant was African-American.
Both Nguyen and Smith have rightfully filed lawsuits, but Nevada seemingly protects itself from this by requiring the owner of the money to prove that it was obtained legally. So essentially, they are guilty until they prove themselves innocent. What makes this all a little fishier is the fact that the Police keep 100 percent of the proceeds from the forfeiture.
Don’t go thinking that this can only happen in Nevada either, as 25 states allow police to keep all the forfeited and seized money, and 37 states have a "guilty until you prove your innocence" stance on forfeitures.
I, for one, say this is completely insane. Who would think that the men and women that are supposed to protect and serve are robbing people blind, and the laws back them up? Check out the video after the jump to see some of the crazy things the police have bought with forfeited money.
Check out the video after the jump.