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Articles Tagged with Texas

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skyline-1509136_1920-300x231A company based in Houston, Texas has been ordered to pay a quarter of a million dollars after it was found to be involved in a workers’ compensation insurance scam.

The conviction was obtained by the prosecution unit of the Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). The DWC’s investigation showed that, in the four-year period between 2008 and 2012, John Stergion, an employee of Alpha Mar, had both misrepresented the number of people employed by the company and also concealed payroll. Stergion’s actions resulted in reduced workers’ compensation insurance rates.
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flag-1544223_1920-300x219In 2017, law enforcement across Texas seized more than $50 million in property, cash, and other assets from private citizens. They were able to do so by claiming these assets were linked to crime. While some of these seizures were taken using criminal forfeiture—that is, as part of cases where an individual was found guilty of a crime—others were taken using civil forfeiture. No criminal charges are required for civil asset forfeiture.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office makes no distinction in its records between civil and criminal forfeiture, so it is unknown how much property was taken from individuals not charged with a crime. Attempts by state legislators to force law enforcement to improve their reporting have repeatedly failed.
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adventure-asphalt-california-533671-300x200In December 2017, Zeke Flatten was pulled over while driving on Highway 101 in California. He was traveling south through Humboldt County and was stopped a little way north of the Mendocino County line. Zeke was not speeding, nor breaking any other traffic laws

At first, the officers did not identify which law enforcement department they worked for. They did not wear departmental badges, nor did they have name tags. They had pulled him over in an unmarked, black Police Interceptor.

As Zeke later said, “At this point, I really felt something was wrong.” Zeke, a resident of Texas, was traveling in a rental car. He showed the officers the car rental agreement and his driver’s license.
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In January, FBI agents seized $77,010 in cash from a couple traveling from Dallas to California. The man and woman say they intended to use the money to buy bitcoins. The FBI, however, believes it is drug money and has begun civil asset forfeiture proceedings to permanently acquire the cash.

The man and woman, who have not been named, checked their bags into their flight at Dallas Love Field. A Southwest Airlines employee noticed that the two bags—a duffel bag and a backpack—had the “pungent and distinctive” aroma of marijuana. The employee also noted that there were “wads of USD spilling out of the backpack.” A police dog then confirmed the presence of drugs on both the duffel bag and backpack.
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The Department of Justice has suspended the federal civil asset forfeiture program in Palmview, Texas while it investigates potential misappropriation of funds.

Palmview, a town of 5,500 people, received about $47,000 in funds in 2017 from the DOJ’s Equitable Sharing Program. This is a tiny amount compared to fund received by larger cities in the state. Last year, law enforcement agencies across Texas received $29 million from the program. These funds, however, are at the core of the city’s corruption investigation.
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