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Police and prosecutors won't give up their license to steal.
Posted by: AJ 2:11pm, Wednesday, 17 February 2010
The officer who pulled him over, Lt. Dwight Simmons of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, said that Smelley had made an unsafe lane change and was driving with an obscured license plate. When Simmons asked for a driver’s license, Smelley told him he had lost it after the accident. Simmons called in Smelley’s name and discovered that his license had actually expired. The policeman asked Smelley to come out of the car, patted him down, and discovered a large roll of cash in his front pocket, in direct contradiction to Smelley’s alleged statement in initial questioning that he wasn’t, in fact, carrying much money.

A record check indicated that Smelley had previously been arrested (though not charged) for drug possession as a teenager, so the officer called in a K-9 unit to sniff the car for drugs. According to the police report, the dog gave two indications that narcotics might be present. So Smelley and his passengers were detained and the police seized Smelley’s $17,500 cash under Indiana’s asset forfeiture law.

But a subsequent hand search of the car turned up nothing except an empty glass pipe containing no drug residue in the purse of Smelley’s girlfriend. Lacking any other evidence, police never charged anybody in the car with a drug-related crime. Yet not only did Putnam County continue to hold onto Smelley’s money, but the authorities initiated legal proceedings to confiscate it permanently.

http://reason.com/archives/2010/01/26/the-forfeiture-racket/print

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The good news
Posted by: stephentyrone 9:58pm, Thursday, 4 March 2010
The good news is that the Judge finally ordered the county to return the money to him on February 17.

The bad news is that, of course, he doesn't get any interest or penalty from the county for them holding a substantial chunk of money from him for an entire year. I also don't know if he's actually gotten the money back yet or not.

(off-topic, but vaguely related) There was a guy many years ago who won a suit against the state of New Hampshire, which the state refused to pay; a judge eventually ended up issuing a warrant for the sheriff to escort him to the nearest state office (the state liquor store, as it turned out) and seize for him the amount of the settlement in "cash or liquid assets".


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