Articles Posted in Money

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On February 18, 2016, armed police raided the business and home of Maricel and Paul Fullerton in Woodland, California. In what looked like a major drug bust, police seized 22 pounds of processed cannabis, firearms, and $55,000 in cash. The only thing that seemed odd was that Maricel works as a hospice nurse, while Paul is a retired fire captain.

For two and a half years, the Fullertons fought to clear their names and repossess their property and cash. This month, the Fullertons finally won their civil asset forfeiture case which sought the return of the money.
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Back in April, I reported on the case of Arlene Harjo. When Arlene’s son drove her car while drunk, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) seized her car using a process known as civil asset forfeiture. They would not give it back even though she had committed no crime. Now, a federal judge presiding over her case has found that Albuquerque’s use of civil asset forfeiture is “unconstitutional.”

In 2015, a law was passed in New Mexico essentially banning civil asset forfeiture. This is the legal procedure where law enforcement can take an individual’s property when it is suspected of being involved in a crime. In most states, criminal charges do not need to be filed as this type of forfeiture is a civil, not a criminal, process.
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In April, Sheriff Butch Conway of Gwinnett County, Georgia, bought a new car for his commute to work. The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is completely black and has tinted windows and black wheels. There’s no question: it looks super-cool. With a 707-horsepower engine, the Hellcat is said to be the fastest sedan ever to be made. It cost $69,258.

The problem? Conway purchased it through his office using proceeds from civil asset forfeiture.
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The Kansas Highway Patrol took over $15,000 in cash from Barbara Reese in 1995. For the last 23 years, she has fought to have her money returned. The latest attempt to resolve her situation—a bipartisan measure in the state legislature to compensate her—has been vetoed by the governor.

Back in 1995, Reese was working as an auto dealer. She was driving through Wyandotte County in order to buy vehicles. In the trunk was a suitcase containing her dealer’s license and the $15,000 cash. She was carrying an additional $2,000 with her in the car.
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In June, I reported on the case of Rustem Kazazi, who had about $58,000 in cash seized from him at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The case caused outrage across the country as Rustem was never charged with a crime. His money was taken using a process known as civil asset forfeiture, a legal procedure where law enforcement can take an individual’s property or cash without criminal charges being filed.

In good news, the Department of Homeland Security has now agreed to return $57,330 to Rustem together with interest earned. However, in a lawsuit from May, Rustem said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) took $58,100 in cash. A hearing has been set for December to decide whether the federal government will have to give Rustem the additional $770.
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