Asset Forfeiture

Manhattan D.A. Spent $250K in Asset Forfeiture Funds on Fine Dining and Luxurious Travel

The expenses included five-star Parisian hotels and sumptuous dinners.

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Van Tine Dennis/Sipa USA/Newscom

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance spent nearly $250,000 over the past five years from a state asset forfeiture fund on fine dining, first-class airfare, and luxurious hotels, according to public records obtained by The City, a nonprofit news outlet in New York City.

While regular state employees, like the line prosecutors under Vance, are bound by strict travel and expense rules, Vance is under no such regulations, and his office controls more than $600 million in funds seized by New York law enforcement in civil and criminal cases.

During his frequent trips across the country, Vance lived high on the hog, The City reports:

Expense reports show that in the last fiscal year alone, Vance visited Washington nine times, Aspen and London twice, and Paris and Los Angeles once apiece.

While in Paris, he spent four nights at Hôtel d'Aubusson, paying $2,816. The five-star hotel "is housed in a true Parisian mansion dating back to 1634" and boasts "discrete luxury, Louis XV furniture, original Aubusson tapestries and a wonderful wood burning fireplace," according to a description posted on TripAdvisor.

In London, Vance was booked at the Ned Hotel, paying $994 for a two-night stay. The five-star accommodations are located in a former bank described on the hotel's website as an "abandoned architectural masterpiece," with a rooftop pool that overlooks St. Paul's Cathedral. Vance spent $128 for a meal in the hotel's restaurant, records show.

Notably, The City reports that Vance's spending over that period dwarfs that of district attorneys in New York City's other boroughs. The next highest spender was Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, who expensed $18,407 since taking office on Jan. 1, 2016.

Vance defended the spending in statements to The City, saying they were within the rules and involved travel to important policing and counter-terrorism conferences. Vance's office has also spent $38 million in forfeiture funds to help local prosecutors across the country test rape kits.

But the report highlights one of the chief criticisms of asset forfeiture: The loose rules and lax oversight over how those funds are used.

Civil asset forfeiture laws allow police and prosecutors to seize property—cash, cars, and even houses—suspected of being connected to criminal activity. Much of that money is often funneled back into police department and district attorney offices' budgets.

Civil liberties groups argue that creates a perverse profit incentive. Many states have lax reporting requirements for forfeiture expenditures, and numerous watchdog and media investigations have revealed local police departments and prosecutors using forfeiture revenues as a slush fund.

Local news outlets reported earlier this year that the district attorney in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, used $21,000 in asset forfeiture revenues intended for drug enforcement to lease a 2016 Toyota Highlander.

In Macomb County, Michigan, county officials launched an audit of the local prosecutor's office after a successful public records lawsuit revealed more than $100,000 in questionable expenditures from the asset forfeiture fund, including office furniture, birthdays, and retirement parties.

In Illinois, former La Salle County state's attorney Brian Towne is facing criminal charges for misconduct and misappropriating public funds after he allegedly spent asset forfeiture funds on an SUV, WiFi for his home, and local youth sports programs. Town created his own highway interdiction unit and asset forfeiture fund for his office, an unusual move that the Illinois Supreme Court later ruled was illegal.

A 2016 Department of Justice Office of Inspector General audit found that an Illinois police department spent more than $20,000 in equitable sharing funds on accessories for two lightly used motorcycles, including after-market exhaust pipes, decorative chrome, and heated handgrips.

There was also the Georgia sheriff who purchased a $90,000 Dodge Viper with forfeiture funds for the department's D.A.R.E. program—not to be confused with the other Georgia sheriff who bought a $70,000 Dodge Charger Hellcat with forfeiture funds.

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  1. Amazing….it’s almost like police AND prosecutors are nothing more than parasites…

    1. Careful, there’s a good chance we’re going to wind up with a prosecutor as president, and they’ll probably appoint Preet Bharara to some position, in which case he’ll be combing through these comment sections looking to throw people in prison.

      1. I wouldn’t call it a good chance of you’re fecerring to colored Hillary. She is just as hateable as Hillary and will be exposed in a general election. They tried jumping in front of her sleeping to the top, but that will be constantly brought up in a general. Plus all of her actions separating families as a D.A. isnt going to help against trump.

        1. When you are replaced, JesseAz, I plan to celebrate with a Mexican beer and a shot of tequila.

          A better America, one replaced clinger at a time.

          1. Arty, you will be face down in a landfill decades before Jesse passes peacefully. Your fellow travelers will also be similarly dispatched from this world.

            Be afraid progtard

            1. All of this criticism of our distinguished District Attorney is highly misguided and inappropriate. Given everything he has done for our well-deserved reputations here at New York University, including above all his much-appreciated use of taxpayer funds (over a million dollars, we are told) to prosecute our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case, we fully support every paid working holiday he wishes to take, regardless of any slight further expense involved. See the documentation of his excellent efforts on our behalf at:

              https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com

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      1. Obviously you are cheap fuck and should look into a position at the Manhattan DA’s office.

    3. Not almost but definitely

    4. A narrow & bigoted claim, as most police & prosecutors are just trying to do their jobs.

      Asset forfeiture is, I admit, a juicy temptation for those with little moral backbone.

  2. To be honest, 500$ a night for a 5-star hotel in London sounds like a steal. I would have expected about 3.5 stars for that rate. Maybe he just knows a great deal when he sees one.

    But seriously, did he really think this was ok, or did he just think he could do it without getting caught?

    1. He’ll skate ulimately.

    2. He didnt care if he was caught. Corruption is that common in New York city.

      1. The worse part of this is that what he did isn’t even “corruption,” in the sense that he did not violate any rules. The system is explicitly set up to allow him to do this legally.

    3. How do you tell the difference between the star levels?

      1. Roaches per square foot.

  3. Arthur Branch would never have pulled something like this.

  4. crazy bellringer was right. there’s money to be made in a town like this …

  5. Fucken thieving rats.

  6. Feet first for you Cy you pathetic piece of shit.

  7. Hey, the retirement fund was just sitting there!

  8. To be honest, I wouldn’t have a problem with top officials getting more expensive hotels and flights as they go up in rank….If it was above board as part of the compensation policy.

    Also, he spent $250,000. Almost certainly more than his entire salary. Probably by a lot. The mayor makes $258,750.

    And

    “The next highest spender was Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, who expensed $18,407 since taking office on Jan. 1, 2016.”

    So, getting some nicer travel accommodations as a big wig – fine. Spending $250,000 out of a slush fund with no oversight – terrible, corrupt, probably not illegal though one can hope.

  9. To be honest, I wouldn’t have a problem with top officials getting more expensive hotels and flights as they go up in rank….If it was above board as part of the compensation policy.

    Also, he spent $250,000. Almost certainly more than his entire salary. Probably by a lot. The mayor makes $258,750.

    And

    “The next highest spender was Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, who expensed $18,407 since taking office on Jan. 1, 2016.”

    So, getting some nicer travel accommodations as a big wig – fine. Spending $250,000 out of a slush fund with no oversight – terrible, corrupt, probably not illegal though one can hope.

  10. In other words, just another day in the land of Big Government.

    We see this all over: gas taxes levied to “fix the roads” that get spent on anything but, fines levied on “Big Tobacco” to “be spent on smoking cessation and healthcare” that get spent on anything but, etc.

  11. “Manhattan D.A. Spent $250K in Asset Forfeiture Funds on Fine Dining and Luxurious Travel
    The expenses included five-star Parisian hotels and sumptuous dinners.”

    There should be no complaining here.
    This Manhattan toiled endlessly to steal other people’s property and deserved his fine dining and luxurious travel.
    Its a small price to pay to ensure our oppressors are rewarded by taking our property in due diligence.

  12. “Vance spent $128 for a meal in the hotel’s restaurant, records show.”

    So a breakfast croissant and a cup of coffee? I mean, Paris after all. The meal was probably $25 and the rest is taxes to pay for the welfare state.

    1. Maybe he’s a big tipper?

  13. ” Vance’s office has also spent $38 million in forfeiture funds to help local prosecutors across the country test rape kits” not to mention how is this possible?

  14. Wow, it’s almost as if there were an incentive for law enforcement to seize people’s property.

  15. A timely reminder that there is no such thing as justice in this world (or the next). Carry on.

  16. I for one applaud his securing 5 star lodgings in Paris for five bills per

  17. At least those guys in Georgia have good taste in cars

  18. Civil asset forfeiture is an abomination that needs to go away as soon as possible. In the meantime, it would be a positive move if all proceeds went into a victims restitution fund rather than into court/LEO budgets or general funds.

    When courts, LEOs, and legislatures have a fiscal incentive to seize assets for their own pockets there is an incentive to overreach, grab what you can, and hope that the victims of your thievery don’t make a stink…because they’re criminals or some such as that.

    1. He’s the son of former Secretary of State and Simpson Thacher partner Cy Vance…at no point did this pile of garbage believe that a stink from the victims of his criminal conduct would land him in the least bit of trouble.

      1. Cy’s daddy also served on the Knapp Commission which investigated NYPD corruption.

    2. “victims restitution fund”

      In the discussion of felon voting rights, conspicuously absent in all the squawk about “they paid their debt to society” is any discussion of restitution to the victims by the released felons. Because there isn’t any.

      No debt has been paid to the victims, and generally *can’t* be paid.

      I’d like a victims restitution fund from general revenue – government failed in it’s fundamental responsibility to protect the rights of a victim, but I’d worry about that system getting gamed.

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  20. Does he expect the Top Men to stay at Motel 6?

    Government of the government, by the government, and for the government.

    The purpose of power is to squeeze the system for personal benefit. OPM.

  21. Come on now, you are just complaining about the perquisites of being a prosecutor. There will always be rewards for those in charge of robbers and thugs. Prosecutors put innocent people in jail and prison, and otherwise ruin lives, every day. They expect to be rewarded, and many are. Most of that goes on under the radar.

  22. It’s not hard to see why many people distrust the Justice System with a holes like this in prominent positions.

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  25. Get Hugh Hewitt on the horn. He will go suck this guys dick and all will be well

  26. Imagine that, corruption in the NYC DAs office. However if they have $600,000,000 just laying around then it’s easy to imagine.

  27. The entire business of Asset Forfeiture, aka Civil Asset Forfeiture, that is seizure of valuables absent charge, trial and conviction, in other words punishment for what???, or Theft Under Color Of Law is a scam that should long since have been allowed to die, with as much help as it’s death might have required. As for Public Officialdom, or Officialdumb riding high on the proceeds of the above mentioned, Theft Under Color Of Law, they should long since have felt the bit being pulled up, pulled up hard. Alas, it’s likely damned foolishness to expect our Golden Boys and Girls, our elected lawmakers to act in what would truly be The Public Interest, especially since, as I suspect, some of the ill gotten gain ends up in their pockets or purses. Should I be in error regarding anything above said, feel free to correct me.

  28. “If I didn’t spend it, somebody else would have!”

  29. Such unethical, immoral scum we have running our third world cuntry.

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