Civil Liberties

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


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.