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Articles Posted in Money

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Police officer In yet another case of police abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws, the office of the Michigan State Attorney General announced last week the filing of seven felony charges against a former police officer for his alleged embezzlement of $68,000 in asset forfeiture funds. The case has renewed calls to reform the existing civil asset forfeiture laws and stop the current practice of seizing civil assets for profit in the guise of fighting crime.

Sean Boucher, 45, was a detective at the Hazel Park Police Department when he allegedly used profits from seized civil assets as a personal enterprise between 2013 to 2017. He resigned from service in September 2017. Before resigning, he was originally put under administrative leave and then suspended by the police department a day later.

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pexels-annam-w-1047442-300x211Rapper NBA Youngboy was arrested on suspected drug charges in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last Monday during a raid by Baton Rouge Police and the FBI. The Baton Rouge Street Crimes Division claims they received an anonymous tip about individuals brandishing guns in an abandoned lot. During the raid, 16 people were arrested and $79,000 was seized through civil asset forfeiture.

While the anonymous tip concerned weapons, the accused rapper was ultimately arrested on drug possession charges. NBA’s lawyer claims that not only did his client not have any illegal substances on him during the raid, but he was also unarmed. While only one illegal weapon was found during the raid, police and FBI seized a total of 14 firearms and $79,000 in cash. 

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Downtown ChicagoIllinois’ Police Reform Bill is supposed to make police work impartial and non-discriminatory. However, the bill remains controversial and continues to aggravate civil rights advocates and legislators alike.

The over 760-page criminal justice reform bill ratified by the General Assembly would increase the state’s powers of decertifying police officers for questionable or even criminal behavior. It would likewise put an end to cash bail for countless criminal acts, necessitate the use of body cameras by police officers, and make other alterations believed to make policing evenhanded and without exploitation and fraud. Continue reading

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pexels-karolina-grabowska-4386431-300x200Two years ago, Wei Lin and Jian Yang, both of Texas, were pulled over and searched by Pennsylvania State Police. They collectively had over $850,000 seized from them by FBI agents.

In both cases, the cash was seized using civil asset forfeiture—a legal practice that allows law enforcement agencies to confiscate cash, vehicles, real estate, and more if they believe it is connected to criminal activity. FBI agents reportedly suspected the cash was drug money, even though there is no record of criminal charges being filed against the suspects.

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pexels-photo-534204-300x167The issue of confiscated cash and property by US law enforcement agencies has been a top concern in recent years. Organizations like The Institute of Justice based in Virginia work to protect the rights of citizens affected by unfettered civil asset forfeiture now known as policing for profit. The Institute has represented small business owners who have had funds and property taken by police even though no charges were filed or no crime was ever committed.

Some of these funds confiscated through civil asset forfeiture were eventually returned, but many have never been recovered. Once disbursed to either state or federal agencies, watchdog organizations have found it nearly impossible to locate the assets again. Many are now asking why this practice exists at all and why it is still so pervasive.

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