Civil Asset Forfeiture

Judge OK's Cops Decision to Seize Truck, Cash from NFL Player Letroy Guion

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Via the Twitter feed of Mike Hewlett comes a disturbing bit of asset forfeiture news.

Back on February 3, Letroy Guion, who plays for the Green Bay Packers, was pulled over in his hometown of Starke, Florida, for swerving while driving. Police ultimately seized $190,000 in cash and took his truck under Florida's Contraband Forfeiture Act:

Under Florida law, if your assets are believed to be tied to a certain crime, law enforcement agents can take them. From there, a judge will decide if the seizing agency is granted the forfeiture of the property in question.

The important thing, of course, is that cops get money to buy stuff.

"People who deal drugs, they have no rules and a lot of money. Police departments, sheriff's offices, they have a lot of rules and not a lot of money," says Starke Police Chief Jeff Johnson.

Guion's truck is currently sitting in the Starke Police Department's impound lot, along with several other vehicles they've seized from people they say broke the law.

"If we can prove it was either they benefited from the narcotics, the money comes from the narcotics, or it was being used to purchase narcotics," Johnson says.

Johnson says he would like to put some of the money towards replacing three police cars that are more than 10 years old.

The judge overseeing the case has ruled that "carrying such a large amount of money itself is strong evidence that currency was intended to be furnished in return for drugs."

As it happens, reports Pro Football Talk,

Guion has a job that legitimately pays him $1 million a year. And Guion reportedly has proof via bank statements that the money comes from cashing his Packers paychecks. If Guion is cashing his paychecks and carrying thousands of $100 bills around with him, that makes him foolish with his money, but it doesn't make him a criminal. And concerns about police abusing civil asset forfeiture laws are real.

Guion has 20 days to respond to the judge's ruling. In the mean time, police will hold onto his cash and truck. 

Guion is facing a weapons charge (he told police he had a licensed, unloaded gun in his car) and a felony pot charge. He's out on bail in the meantime. If I were him, I'd start shopping for a new set of wheels.

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  1. The important thing, of course, is that cops get money to buy stuff.

    Those flashbangs that blew off the kid’s face aren’t free, you know.

    1. +1 ready, FIRE, aim

  2. Civil asset forfeiture laws may be the single clearest example the the BoR is dead. These sorts of stories make my blood boil.

    1. yep – this so much

    2. And what do they rely upon 99% of the time?

    3. It takes Olympic-level mental gymnastics to come up with the justifications for the legality of asset forfeiture that courts have. It’s incredible.

      1. Fortunately, the brilliant legal minds on the Supreme Court are on the case!

    4. the BoR is dead

      Well, badly injured anyway. The first and second amendments are probably as strong as they ever have been, if still far from ideally enforced. And the third does pretty well. The fourth is highly disrespected and in danger of becoming meaningless. Pleading the fifth seems to work if you do it properly with a lawyer present, though I don’t know what happened to the grand jury requirement. Why doesn’t that apply to states? The sixth seems to be mostly respected, though there is some bad “war on terror” stuff going on there and some trials don’t seem very speedy to me. The seventh seems to be OK, the eighth is not well respected in my view, but others might disagree on what is “cruel and unusual”. And the 9th and 10th are of course completely ignored.

      1. second amendments are probably as strong as they ever have been, if still far from ideally enforced.

        Before 1934 you could order a BAR from the Sears catalog. You could buy any weapon you wanted, anywhere, anytime. From antiques to the latest military hardware, even stuff that the military wouldn’t buy for years.

        The 2nd was in dire straits after 1934’s NFA, 1968’s GCA, the 1986 Hughes Amendment, and the 1994 Assault Weapon’s Ban. Things are better now from a constitutional POV with Heller, but we still have a long way to go.

        1. Yeah, that one is a bit of a stretch in some ways. The second was horribly abused and ignored for most of the 20 th century. My point was that with Heller, etc. the 2nd is being used to improve things somewhat, which hasn’t happened in the past. Before 1934 it was much better for gun rights. But that was because that’s just how things were rather than because the 2nd amendment was enforced.

          1. But that was because that’s just how things were rather than because the 2nd amendment was enforced.

            Uh no. The courts intervened several times pre Miller to reverse unconstitutional legislation

            http://www.guncite.com/court/state/33ar557.html

            If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of a constitutional privilege.

            Control of weapons is probably the tyrant’s oldest tool to control the population. It didn’t start with 20th century leftists.

    5. Civil asset forfeiture laws may be the single clearest example the the BoR is dead.

      Asset forfeiture pre-dates the Bill of Rights. It’s part of libertarians’ beloved common law.

  3. The judge overseeing the case has ruled that “carrying such a large amount of money itself is strong evidence that currency was intended to be furnished in return for drugs.”

    I wonder what the Judge’s cut will be?

    1. I’ll assume the judge drinks and drives a lot or has a kid that smokes weed.

      1. And? Laws are for the little people. Now get back in line, peasant.

    2. The judge also ruled that Guion is black, so whatever money he was carrying probably either came from selling drugs or was going to be used to buy drugs.

      1. No worries, that Lorretta Lynch will personally intervene for him as soon as the racist Teabaglicans approve her reign of terror.

        1. “Hand Over Your Shit!” is the new “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!”

          1. Just imagine Hillary as POTUS with this woman as AG. Please save us invisible sky gods, because I don’t think that anything else can.

          2. I need this on a tee shirt.

      2. I don’t think the law enforcement apparatus cares about any color other than green in asset forfeiture cases.

        1. I don’t think the law enforcement apparatus cares about any color other than green in asset forfeiture cases. – Mickey Rat

          They probably care about gold, too.

          Is there some hope Cheesehead Nation will be seriously offended about this?

          Iggles fans should watch out. Silver isn’t gold, but PDs will snatch that, too.

          Kevin R

    3. the Judge’s cut

      *furiously dials Jim Beam with new marketing idea*

      1. The wiskey they wipe up off the floor?

  4. If Guion is cashing his paychecks and carrying thousands of $100 bills around with him, that makes him foolish with his money, but it doesn’t make him a criminal

    Umm, according to FL, THE FREEST OF THE FREE STATES EVER, it does.

    1. No, it makes the cash a criminal. Florida doesn’t care if he is a criminal.

    2. And if you go back to the original seizure, the cops put the money into small piles so that they could make the cash cover multiple tables’ worth, and look like more than it was.

  5. Police departments, sheriff’s offices, they have a lot of rules and not a lot of money,” says Starke Police Chief Jeff Johnson.

    Extra points for delivering this with a straight face.

    1. Yeah, that seems like a pretty straightforward admittance of theft to me.

      “They have money and we don’t, so we take it.”

    2. The words “So” and “what” come to mond when hearing that excuse.

    3. Well, they *do* have a lot of rules, there are just no consequences for ignoring them.

      Seriously, though, Letroy, if you’re listening: why the hell are you even setting foot in Starke? Take your millions and get your family the hell out of that shithole.

  6. OT: Jazz Shaw is still a fucktard.

    While there were obviously exceptions, this seemed to keep civilization on a relatively even keel. As long as the majority of the citizens were not only honest, but on the side of the cops, law enforcement could remain effective. It was the system which maintained the thin veneer of civilization upon which we all rely. But as Moran writes, the times they are a changing. When people brazenly march down the avenues of cities calling for the death of law enforcement officers and police are slaughtered in ambush scenarios, making temporary “heroes” of their killers in the media, the world becomes a more dangerous place.

    Sadly, this is not some hyperbolic warning about a possible future. The bell has already been rung and police are being hunted for sport. And we can’t reverse this tide by chasing individual criminals or hearing pontifications from politicians. If we want to restore and maintain order there needs to be a renewal of community support for the police, not just as individuals, but for what they represent.

    1. there needs to be a renewal of community support for the police, not just as individuals, but for what they represent.

      Well you know, I’m just throwing this out there, but if they would stop being murderous thugs, maybe that would happen?

    2. Huh. That approaches criminality in its stupidity.

      Fuck him.

    3. That person should never be allowed access to a keyboard again.

      What a fuckin’ idiot.

    4. Sadly, this is not some hyperbolic warning about a possible future.

      Yes it is.

      The bell has already been rung and police are being hunted for sport.

      No it hasn’t. Sometimes I wish it were so. If anything it is surprising that more police aren’t murdered just for being police.

      And we can’t reverse this tide by chasing individual criminals or hearing pontifications from politicians. If we want to restore and maintain order there needs to be a renewal of community support for the police, not just as individuals, but for what they represent.

      Fuck off, pig. That is 100% up to the police. You don’t get people on your side by acting like you are better and more important than eveyone else.

  7. “Police departments, sheriff’s offices, they have a lot of rules and not a lot of money,” says Starke Police Chief Jeff Johnson.

    Sometimes I sort of wish I lived in the cops’ world.

  8. “People who deal drugs, they have no rules and a lot of money. Police departments, sheriff’s offices, they have a lot of rules and not a lot of money,” says Starke Police Chief Jeff Johnson.

    lol.

    Johnson says he would like to put some of the money towards replacing three police cars that are more than 10 years old.

    Dude, have you seen those new Dodge Chargers? It would sooo sweet if we could replace our Crown Vics without having to fill out all the paperwork and deal with the county and shit.

    1. Give them credit for good taste. I love the look of the new Chargers.

  9. These are some weapon’s grade stupid cops. They could have swiped the earthly goods of poor and middle class people all day every day and few other than us and the IJ would, but there’s no way swiping goods from a rich black football player is going to be ignored by the media.

    1. *insert a “care” in the above statement* Why, oh why can’t we have an edit feature?

    2. The unfortunate reality is that the arguments against it are going to be “ZOMG RACISM” instead of “asset forfeiture and the drug war are really bad, priority-warping policies.”

      1. True, however it still a stupid move on the cops part.

      2. there’s no way swiping goods from smoking dope by a rich black football player is going to be ignored by the media

        FTFY

      3. I’ve noticed that once they realize what asset forfeiture is, a lot of people see how completely wrong it is. I think a lot of people think it is taking the property of people who have been convicted and are quite surprised that it can be applied against people who aren’t even charged with anything.

        1. Part of the stated intention of asset forfeiture is that it stops criminals from using ill-gotten money to hire their legal defense, forcing them to depend on a public pretender. This increases the chance of conviction, but we already know they’re guilty or they wouldn’t have had all that stuff for the government to steal. Allowing criminals to defend themselves with an attorney of their choice paid for with their own money is being soft on crime.

          1. Allowing criminals the accused to defend themselves with an attorney of their choice paid for with their own money is being soft on crime.

            I know that’s what you meant, but it still bears pointing out. You’re not even “a criminal” (legally speaking) until after the conviction.

            1. Legally speaking, yes. Practically speaking, you’re guilty until (and many times after) you prove your innocence.

        2. Besides that, they didn’t pay taxes on that money. So it belongs to we the people, otherwise known as the government.

          1. Which makes it all the more fucked up when they don’t even charge the forfeitee with any crime.

            I don’t think I ever heard that intention stated (though nothing would surprise me when it comes to this shit). Clearly that is one of the reasons prosecutors like it, though.

            they didn’t pay taxes on that money

            Except when they did. Like this football guy appears to have done.

      4. On the Packer board where I regularly post, people finally started to get that perhaps asset forfeiture might not be a good idea, but only after somebody other than me posted a link to the Huffington Post. Non-lefties like Radley Balko don’t get a hearing with them. (And then there was the time I posted about Bou Bou Phonesavanh, and people got angry at me, not the pigs.)

        They still thought that Guion might be dealing and ZOMG THAT’S TEH EVUL!!!1!11!

        1. I know right? Because no one who can afford it, ever stocks up on their favorite intoxicants. Like if I buy a carton of cigarettes rather than a single pack or a case of whiskey rather than one bottle it MUST mean I intend to resell them.

  10. The judge overseeing the case has ruled that “carrying such a large amount of money itself is strong evidence that currency was intended to be furnished in return for drugs.”

    *** looks at Federal Reserve Note dollar bill ***

    “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE”

    190,000 times this.

    1. 190,000 times this.

      Then they’ll just pin loosie sales on you. Nice life you have there, too bad if something happens to it.

      1. Probably.

        Still, the “strong evidence” is bullshit.

        And “not having donated blood for a year itself is strong evidence that the blood was intended to be furnished in return for drugs.”

        1. It is total bullshit. Yes people buying drugs need a lot of cash. But a lot of people still buy cars, real estate and various other expensive things with cash.

        2. But, if you have donated blood in the past year, either:

          a. You did it at a place that pays you. You’re obviously using that money for drugs.

          b. You donated to the Red Cross. You’re going to trade the movie ticket, cookies and Gatorade you’re given for drugs.

          1. Someone should really cut out the middle man and just start a blood bank that gives out drugs for blood.

  11. The chief knows Guion and knows his family.

    If he knew me and my family, he would know his house would be burning down soon.

    1. I’m sure that would work out well for you.

      1. Exactly what people about to steal $200K from me should be saying to each other sarcastically.

  12. The comments on this story at Pro Football Talk make me feel like I’m on the reason boards.

    1. I’d been scared to look. PFT commenters are usually sub-Youtube commenters when it comes to intelligence.

      1. Mike Florio is a Vikings fan, so that might explain it.

        1. That explains it Ted. LeTroy was a Viking before he left for Green Bush. That must be why Florio likes him.

  13. How does “swerving while driving” constitute probable cause to search his car and find said money? Aside from FYTW clause, of course.

    1. Because it’s your civic duty to fuck up your rims in the state provided potholes.

      1. Florida has potholes?

        My wife’s car is getting 2 new wheels and 4 tires right now thanks to New Jersey’s potholes.

        1. Dude, everywhere the state is responsible for maintaining its precious roadz has potholes. Some of the worst potholes I have ever seen were in Mississippi, because you know how much snow and ice Mississippi gets.

          1. The state (well mostly towns) actually does a pretty good job of filling pot holes. Of course, they also pave the same roads over and over while completely ignoring others (except to fill pot holes).

            1. Which state?

      2. Or you could just pay the $128 to the state.

        http://www.myfoxtwincities.com…..ng-pothole

        So the city hires and incompetent who does a bad job. This results in huge pot holes and then the cops start citing drivers for avoiding them. Wish I paid taxes over there.

    2. In some places with rough roads and hard winters, not swerving while driving is more evidence of impairment than swerving while driving.

  14. he had a licensed, unloaded gun in his car

    Where did he have it “licensed”?

    It sure as shit wouldn’t be in Florida or Wisconsin. Unknown to liberal media types like Nick, the federal government doesn’t license them either.

    1. Probably referring to his Minnesota CCW license (not honored in FL).

  15. I don’t understand the weapons charge. You don’t need to register guns in Florida, and while there are some restrictions on it being in a car, generally you can have them.

    It has to be either “securely encased” or not immediately available for use”, and in this case, if it’s unloaded, I think it would qualify to the latter.

    Speaking as someone who lived in Florida and had a gun in his car….

    Also Florida is one of the most generous conceal carry states, maybe that’s what you mean by licensed. In that case, the gun charge, really, really doesn’t make sense.

    1. Guion’s CCW permit is from MN (which FL does not honor).

      The photo at ESPN does show an ordinary “clasping” hard plastic handgun case, so I’d think he’d meet the definition of “securely encased” if it was closed with the gun inside.

  16. Guion may well be that proverbial “horses ass”. That having been said, Civil Asset Forfeiture is and remains Theft Under Color of Law, without regard to such “good ends” as officialdom might put the money or valuables to.

  17. What I find ridiculous about this is that the cops are claiming they can take his money because he was planning on using it to buy drugs in the future.

    In all the civil forfeiture cases I’d heard of, the claim is that the money was used in, or obtained via, past illegal activity.

    1. Why else would a black man go to Florida, to get a suntan.

      Of course it was drugs. Or something else illegal.
      He had a gun, there’s your proof right there.

  18. These programs that allow this need to be outlawed by congress. There has been way too many news articles of the police stealing legal money from citizens.

  19. I’d be shopping for a very good attorney, and a new personal manager who he should listen to – even though at 27, he shouldn’t still need a nanny, but apparently does.

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