It's a Bad Time to Buy a House Anyway

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From Davidson County, North Carolina, comes your daily asset seizure story:

Two men traveling south on Interstate 85 southwest of Lexington Tuesday told Davidson County sheriff's deputies that the $88,000 in cash they had hidden in their car was to buy a house in Atlanta.

Officers with the sheriff office's Interstate Criminal Enforcement unit didn't believe the story after a drug-sniffing dog found a strong odor of narcotics inside the car.

No drugs were found, and the two men weren't charged with a crime, but officers did keep the money, citing a federal drug assets seizure and forfeiture law.

If a federal judge sides with the officers, $66,000 will go to the "sheriff's office general fund." The office has collected $400,000 in a similar manner this year alone. Sez the Sheriff:

"It allows us to buy equipment without using taxpayers' money."

Via Nobody's Business.

NEXT: "I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards!"

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  1. Highway robbery…

    I’d write more, but I can’t seem to concentrate, due to the ferocious ringing in my ears- and I’m having trouble making out the characters on the keyboard. The sun must have gone behind a cloud, because everything is growing…

    dim

    why does my left arm hurt so

  2. Well hey, at least this is honest theivery.

  3. Yes, robby under cover of law. I feel for them if their story is true. Just another way in which the drug war is costing us.

    Still, I give them a “dumbass” for carrying that much cash. Had they never heard of a cashier’s check? Bank draft? Money order?

  4. We ought to call these LEOs what they are, Highwaymen.

  5. I don’t believe them either, but who cares? Do we really live in a country where not having a plausible story to be doing something legal is itself a crime? Why does it matter what the sheriffs “believed,” especially when they have a financial incentive not to believe?

  6. Doesn’t matter if their story’s true. This is the whole problem with civil forfeiture–it turns due process on its ears. The SCOTUS should have their building confiscated for allowing this abomination to continue.

  7. “It allows us to buy equipment without using taxpayers’ money.”

    “Because like there aren’t really any taxpayers any more, man. Only cops, perps, and perps we haven’t nailed yet.”

    And it works so well. If these are actually drug runners they’re probably making enough on the black market that they can simply go back home and pull another $88K out of the safe.

  8. Still, I give them a “dumbass” for carrying that much cash. Had they never heard of a cashier’s check? Bank draft? Money order?

    A draft, money order or cashier’s check for that much money would cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And American citizens who don’t regularly read this site probably don’t worry about the possibility of the cops legally stealing whatever they happen to be carrying.

  9. Why don’t we just make Uncle Sam a joint account holder on all of our accounts? If he needs the money, why, he can just write a check! No more taxes!

  10. Would a cashiers check really be treated any differently than cash?

  11. So how could this possibly be interpreted as constitutional? The last time I checked you needed to actually be convicted of a crime before the government could deprive you of your property.

  12. Josh,

    The property is guilty. Of something. Frankly, I think the appropriate thing to do is to burn the money for its wrongdoing.

  13. It’s not like a bank transaction for over $10,000 would cause any problems for these future buyers. Why didn’t they go to a bank?

    Oh, that’s right, they would have wound up on a terrorist/drug dealer watch list.

  14. Josh, The ‘takings clause’ of the 5th(?) Ammendment states something along the lines of no one shall be deprived of property without ‘due process of law’. That’s been interpreted as a less rigorous standard than a conviction. It requires the civil court ‘preponderance of the evidence’ rather than ‘beyond resonable doubt’. I just think that a preponderance of the evidence should be a little stronger than ‘there was money, and we got a dog to bark.’

    However, I’d like to see ‘due process’ mean at least a requirement that a grand jury find sufficient reason to indict the individuals in question for some actual crime.

    Indeed, I wonder if there isn’t some subtle training of the dog to ‘show’ when he recieves a subtle cue from his handler. It is entirely possible for such a thing to happen without the handler intending it. That possibility alone seems to be such that a show from a drug dog should not be sufficient to deem a suprising batch of cash to be subject to siezure.

  15. Josh:

    You do not need to be convicted of a crime for the government to deprive you of your property. (And no, I’m not talking about taxation.)

    It’s called ‘forfeiture’, and is a legal child of the ‘war on drugs’. The legal fiction is that the property seized is ‘arrested’ because there is reasonable cause that it had a part in committing a crime. The person to whom the property belonged need not be convicted of any crime for forfeiture to take place. The seizure of the cash will appear as a criminal charge on some court’s docket with a title like “the Federal Government versus $88,000 in US currency”. There is no longer any need for gov’t agents at any level to use due process to seize your land, cash, car or any other property. They just take it on the flimsiest of charges. As a society, we are so f*cked.

  16. To be fair to the reporter (who I think didn’t ask enough questions at all), I’ve just had a lengthy email exchange with him in which he sounds like a pretty reasonable guy. He made it clear that the story won’t stop here and is eager to uncover even more.

    If anyone has any leads or ideas for him, I’m sure he’ll look into it, so hit him up! His address is on the site.

  17. Um, shouldn’t we dial 911 for P Brooks? Is there a doctor in the house?

    Hang in there, P Brooks, help is coming.

    (Oh, god, he’s a goner. Pray for him, everybody.)

  18. Um, shouldn’t we dial 911 for P Brooks? Is there a doctor in the house?

    Call 911? They’ll surely confiscate his arm.

  19. My head hurts.

    How long will it be ’til we see this:

    The officers became suspicious when they observed that the subject vehicle was being driven at the speed limit; when the driver came to a full stop at a stop sign, and subsequently signaled for a lane change, the officers stopped the vehicle and searched it. No contraband was found but the driver’s stash of seventy two dollars in cash was confiscated.

    A poice spokesperson said: “This was just heads-up police work. When our guys saw him creeping along at the speed limit, and then even signal for a lane change, it was obvious this perp was trying really hard to evade detection. As for the cash, he said he was going out to Seven Eleven to buy a paper. Nobody needs that kind of cash just to buy a paper. We’ll be keeping an eye on that one.”

  20. That should be “police” with an “L” obviously…

    stupid keyboard

  21. Davidson County?

    You’re sure it wasn’t Nottingham?

  22. The problem with dogs “showing” for drugs when they’re sniffing money is that pretty much all money has gone through the hands of someone who has also been handling drugs, so all money is going to smell like drugs to a dog. You’re really screwed if someone bought beer with a $10 bill that he just snorted some lines of coke through and you got as change for your soda purchase.

  23. During the Stalin purges in the 1930’s, the legal concept of “guilt by analogy” was developed; that is, even if the action you took was not per se treasonable, if it was analogous to treasonable behavior, you were guilty of treason. Forfeiture laws work on precisely the same principal.

  24. I was going to suggest they just change the bills into $1,000 notes, thus leaving them with a lot less to find, but according to this, the largest denomination still being printed is a $100 bill. That would still get you down to 880 bills, which you could probably hide pretty damn easily. Either these guys are stupid or they’re not drug dealers…. or both…

  25. Something about this story stinks worse than the smell of drugs.

    Anybody who would travel around the country today with it that much UNDOCUMENTED cash “has” to be either missing part of the ball game or trying to get in without buying a ticket.

    Having flown from Texas to New Jersey, and now in transit to Georgia, they were probably in a rental automobile, (it was not theirs for sure), so never mind the drug sniffing dog, What about the cash itself?

    It is not illegal to carry your property with you wherever you go. But legal ownership of that property may be required along the way. So, where was the proof that the cash was legal? Even if the proof “was left in a wallet on the motel room desk” a simple phone call back to wherever it came from would clear that up. Now go ahead and jump all over me, but in the real world today things can get hazy even for the best of us. And if I was caught away from home with $88 thousand in greenbacks, I’d sure as hell have some proof with me that it wasn’t just lifted from somebody else’s ATM account.

    I have a friend who cleaned out his savings a few years ago and paid $17,000 cash for a pick-up truck. About 6 months later he had to explain to the IRS where the cash came from.

    It’s true that not many drug dealers take checks or credit cards, so the penal system is now spring-loaded to be suspicious when it stumbles over wads of undocumented cash.

    So my suspicion is that, (to these two stalwarts), if they were drug dealers, dumping the 88 G’s was just the cost of a dumb mistake. But suppose they were something else. Suppose they had $88,000 that they had ripped off from little old unsuspecting ladies and old men? Suppose they were Irish Travelers and had never reported and/or paid taxes on any of the 88G stash.

    Experts estimate there are 12,000 to 20,000 Irish Travelers here in the U.S, and are home based in Texas and South Carolina. (Weren’t these two nomads from Texas?) Multiply 88G’s times the 12 to 20 thousand of these vultures and pretty soon you’ll be talking real money.

    If there is a home repair scam they know it or they invented it. The women are good at shoplifting and scamming merchants out of cash and merchandise. They take their children with them to use as decoys and teach them scams and cons.

    The Irish Travelers say their ancestors were Gypsies at the time Jesus was in the Middle East. When Jesus was crucified, the Gypsies say their ancestors stole one of the spikes and that is why the soldiers could not nail-in the last spike in Jesus’ neck. This way he could still talk to his followers from the cross. They say because of this act God and Jesus gave the Gypsies the right to steal from then on and it would not be a sin.

    So when the Irish Travelers rip you off on a home repair they say they are doing it with the permission of God and Jesus.

    In any event, there was apparently no contest for the legal ownership of the footlocker sized pile of cash, and that fact alone tells me something else stunk besides the smell of drugs in the car.

    Now, aren’t you glad the Davidson County Sherif’s office was on the job and saved the locals all that tax money?

  26. Officers with the sheriff office’s Interstate Criminal Enforcement unit didn’t believe the story after a drug-sniffing dog found a strong odor of narcotics inside the car.

    It took a dog to detect a “strong odor of narcotics”?

    If a federal judge agrees with investigators, the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office would receive 75 percent ($66,000) of the confiscated money.

    Who gets the other 25%?

  27. Lowdog,
    Hell with that. When the aforementioned coke snorter paid his $10 for that fine six pack of imported brew you didn’t get it back in change. Instead, the $10 bill was deposited into the bank and counted on an automated bill counter the next day by the teller. That means that every bill that goes through that counter is contaminated. In a 1993 Wall Street Journal article it was estimated that 80% of all currency in the US is contaminated by cocaine. Not sure how much would make for a “strong scent” of drugs though.

  28. Who gets the other 25%?

    The Supreme Court?

  29. Thanks for that racism Elmo. Please sit down.

  30. It is not illegal to carry your property with you wherever you go. But legal ownership of that property may be required along the way

    Oh, really? I have nothing to prove that I own the watch or jewelry I’m wearing this second; does this mean a cop has the right to confiscate it from me?

  31. Jennifer,

    Um, yes. Legally speaking, they can require you to bear their young, as well, if you aren’t holding a valid marriage certificate.

  32. I remember when Jeff and I moved from our old apartment to our new one–everything we owned was in that giant U-Haul, yet we could conclusively prove ownership of exactly none of it. Lucky for us the cops had no interest in confiscating 200,000 science-fiction books and my collection of antique stereoscope cards, right, Elmo?

  33. Was ist los, fraulein? Vere vere your papers? Papers ur required!! You must have ze papers!!!! How can ve go on vithout zem!

  34. 76

    >>>>>Thanks for that racism Elmo. Please sit down.>>>>

    I’m sitting 76. Now what? Call’em American Indians? I didn’t know there was such a thing, but it it’ll make you happy, there’re American Indians.

    Not that it makes any difference. They’re still rip-off artists.

    Jennifer,
    >>>>>It is not illegal to carry your property with you wherever you go. But legal ownership of that property may be required along the way. Oh, really? I have nothing to prove that I own the watch or jewelry I’m wearing this second; does this mean a cop has the right to confiscate it from me?>>>>>

    I can’t say about the watch on your wrist Jennifer, but now, about that loose $88,000 in the back seat, , , ,uummmmm. Do you “really” want to chance it?

    PL,
    >>>>>Um, yes. Legally speaking, they can require you to bear their young, as well, if you aren’t holding a valid marriage certificate.>>>>>

    What can be said about such astute and learned observation?

    Jennifer,
    >>>>>I remember when Jeff and I moved from our old apartment to our new one–everything we owned was in that giant U-Haul, yet we could conclusively prove ownership of exactly none of it. Lucky for us the cops had no interest in confiscating 200,000 science-fiction books and my collection of antique stereoscope cards, right, Elmo?>>>>>

    Well now. . . I’d say anybody that would stuff 200 thou sci-fi books in a U-Haul “should” be looked over, if for no other reason than that the vehicle was probably over the hignway weight limit, not to mention the truck itself being overloaded.

    P-Nazi,
    >>>>>Was ist los, fraulein? Vere vere your papers? Papers ur required!! You must have ze papers!!!! How can ve go on vithout zem!>>>>>

    You got-it.

  35. Elmo,

    I think LGF misses you.

  36. What can be said about such astute and learned observation?

    Words mean nothing. But I accept large sums of cash.

    Well now. . . I’d say anybody that would stuff 200 thou sci-fi books in a U-Haul “should” be looked over, if for no other reason than that the vehicle was probably over the hignway weight limit, not to mention the truck itself being overloaded.

    Obviously, Jeff and Jennifer rented a U-Tardis. How else could they get 200,000 science fiction books into it? Duh.

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