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Articles Tagged with Equitable Sharing

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highway-828985_1920-300x200Between 2016 and 2017, police officers in Phelps County, Missouri seized over $2.5 million during traffic stops along a 20-mile stretch of I-44. Law enforcement did not file any criminal charges for those seizures.

The property was taken using a legal procedure known as civil asset forfeiture. This controversial procedure allows law enforcement to seize an individual’s property if said property is suspected of being involved in a crime.

In criminal procedures, proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is required to gain a conviction. As civil asset forfeiture is a civil and not a criminal process, the standard of proof required to permanently take property is usually lower. In Missouri, all that is required is “a preponderance of the evidence.”
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bills-cash-collection-47344-300x212Former Illinois police chief Michael Newsome, who has been charged with the theft of over $200,000 in civil asset forfeiture funds, has waived his right to jury trial. Newsome was first arrested in 2012 and has been out on bond ever since.

Newsome has been charged with seven felonies. The charges include the theft of over $100,000 in government property, official misconduct, and the misappropriation of funds. The thefts are alleged to have occurred between 2007 and 2012.
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justice-2060093_1920-300x200Attorney General Jeff Sessions has resigned effective immediately. Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, has been named as acting attorney general in his place. Sessions was a champion of civil asset forfeiture—he reinstated a federal forfeiture program that had been restricted by Eric Holder, his predecessor. Without Sessions at the Department of Justice (DOJ), there is uncertainty over the future of this program.

Sessions faced bipartisan opposition for his championing of civil asset forfeiture. “I’m amazed these people don’t get it. We had a reform in early 2001… relieved some of the concerns from our libertarians,” said Sessions in 2017. The Obama administration, he continued, “actually curtailed this program for the last several years, but we’re going to keep it out there. And as long as we can, we will be doing it.”
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In 2016, Kyle Savely was driving on I-80 in Summit County, Utah when he was pulled over by the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP). Officers said Kyle had been tailgating the car in front. A drug dog examined the car and alerted officers to the presence of narcotics. They searched Kyle’s car and, while they found no drugs, they did find Kyle was traveling with cash in excess of $500,000.

Kyle was charged with a traffic violation and police seized his money. Although he was later acquitted of the charge, the UHP did not return the cash. Instead of giving the money back to its owner, the UHP handed it over to the Drug Enforcement Administration because, they said, the DEA had an active investigation against Kyle.
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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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