Articles Tagged with Ohio

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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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In 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized $58,000 from an Ohio man. They have not returned the money, nor have they charged him with a crime.

Rustem Kazazi and his family are originally from Albania in southern Europe, where Rustem worked as a police officer. In 2005, the Kazazis moved to the U.S. when they were awarded visas through the State Department lottery program. They settled in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2010, the family became naturalized U.S. citizens.
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In August 2017, $13,740 was stolen from a man in a gas station in Ohio. Although the culprit was caught, the Portage County Drug Task Force held onto the victim’s money, arguing it was subject to civil asset forfeiture. Last Friday, Judge Becky Doherty ordered the money finally be returned to the victim.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process where law enforcement can seize money or property suspected of being involved in criminal activity. In most states, law enforcement can seize property even if its owner has not been charged with a crime. Since proceeds from forfeiture are often used by law enforcement, this has led to accusations of “policing for profit” from groups such as the libertarian Institute for Justice. Continue reading