Civil asset forfeiture is a seizure program used in all 50 states to confiscate financial and physical assets owned by suspected criminals. A handful of states require a criminal conviction before property can be seized, but most states, including Hawaii, simply require police to demonstrate probable cause.
A resident of Lee County, Florida has been arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Christopher Ted Duluk is accused of pulling at least one motorist over through the use of an illegally equipped vehicle. His vehicle was seized after his arrest. It is not yet known if the accused is represented by an attorney or plans to retain an attorney.
Law enforcement alleges that Duluk, using a 2009 Bentley equipped with police-style lights and sirens, attempted to pull over at least one person. Furthermore, the Bentley was equipped with antennas, a yellow official state of Florida license plate, and a device which is used to measure speed similar to the kind often used by law enforcement.
The U.S. government has seized around $250 million from Alejandro Andrade, a former Venezuelan national treasurer convicted in an international-money laundering scheme. This scheme enabled the purchase of properties, luxury cars, and other items, sources allege. The former treasurer is currently serving prison time for his role in the scheme.
Miladis Salgado of Miami, FL, had $15,000 seized from her home in 2015 after what turned out to be an erroneous drug tip. Salgado has worked to get her property back and recoup the costs of defending herself in court. While the government has given back her property, Salgado is still financially worse for wear, and some are calling for the US Supreme Court to examine her case. This is just the latest in a series of high-profile wrongful seizure cases that are causing scrutiny of the practice of civil asset forfeiture.
Salgado was legally separated but still living with her ex-husband Wilson Colorado when the raid occurred. At the time, the Drug Enforcement Agency was tipped off to allegations of drug trafficking against her ex-husband.
A judge in Mobile, Alabama, questioned local law enforcement’s use of controversial civil asset forfeiture laws to seize four tow trucks from a Mobile-based SOS Towing, but rejected the company’s request to have the trucks returned.
Circuit Court Judge Wesley Pipes denied the towing company’s request for an injunction, saying there are other methods for the company to get the vehicles back.