'Suspicious' couple goes free, but officers keep $200,000 for evidence

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  • Naruto
    Feb. 18, 2009 2:47 p.m.

    News Flash: "With economic down turn, police turn to stealing people's hard earned cash!"

  • Zadruga Guy
    Feb. 18, 2009 2:22 p.m.

    Fredd, didn't you read the article? There was Probable Cause -- the reaction of the police dog.

    Folks, "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" only applies to criminal charges. The only criminal charges are driving an unsafe vehicle (because of the broken windshield) and driving in an unsafe manner (because of the lane change not being properly signaled). Thus, the police do not have to prove that the money came from drug deals because the people arrested are not being charged with that crime. Thus, once the people in the car, or their attornies, prove that the money belongs to them, it will be given back to them. Exactly as the article noted.

    Recall that the people in the car said that they were going to donate it to the Catholic Church. I think that an appropriate resolution to this situation would be for the police to facilitate that donation by giving the money directly to the Catholic Church on behalf of the people in the car.

  • adrianxb
    Feb. 18, 2009 1:50 a.m.

    Google the "seizure laws". This has been going on forever. The courts have upheld it. "They" can take cars and houses and money and property. And keep it. No arrest or crime is needed.

    Unfortunately the lefties and Bush haters have been too busy blithering about how we mistreat and data mine on non-citizen terrorists, instead of protesting well-established long-time procedures that are obviously "illegal search and seizure" and can affect any one of us.

  • Whiggy
    Feb. 17, 2009 3:09 p.m.

    Come on people, this was clearly drug money. Do you really want this money going back to criminal organizations that participate in murder, robbery, burgalry, and identity theft?

  • Will the money marry?
    Feb. 17, 2009 2:08 p.m.

    Under the asset forfeiture law, assets can be charged with a crime. The money becomes a legal entity like a person, business, corporation, etc. However, only individuals can be charged with a crime. Therefore, the money is now an individual in the eyes of the law. So my question is this; can the money apply for a marriage license? After all, the law sees it as an individual, subject to all the laws and criminal proceedings. Shouldn't it also have the benefits of law?

    Conclusion for those who don't want to think this through: The asset forfeiture law is stupid, and rife with abuse, and abuse potential.

  • not illegal search
    Feb. 17, 2009 11:49 a.m.

    Having a dog sniff around a car is no more an illegal search than the officer seeing something through the windows. He didn't open the car and put the dog inside. The dog walked around outside the car and smelled the odor of drugs, therefore there was PROBABLE CAUSE for the search, just like if the officer sees open cans of beer and marijuana joints on the car seat. He didn't need a warrant in those circumstances to do a more thorough search, any more than he would need a warrant if the driver were drinking from a can of beer when he walked up.

    The money can be held as "evidence," but even if it tested positive for drug traces, there's no way to prove they did anything wrong, since most paper money has drug traces on it (yes, even the cash in your wallet). If they come back with a lawyer, they'll get "their" money back. Then they can (of course) donate it to that Catholic church that they don't know where it is or what it's called. But chances are they won't show their faces here again.

  • Come on, folks
    Feb. 17, 2009 11:39 a.m.

    If you had $200,000 cash that really belonged to you, wouldn't you have fixed that broken windshield?

    Would YOUR money be in little packets (ready to distribute), drug-soaked?

    Would YOU know where the church you were going to donate to, was located -- and wouldn't yOU just send a check to that church, rather than driving cross-country.

    A crime is a crime. You'd all be the first to scream if YOUR KID got mixed up on drugs.....

  • Cosmo
    Feb. 17, 2009 11:34 a.m.

    The law that is being used,is the "Asset Forfeiture"
    law. Each state along with the Feds have them. They were intended to impact the drug runners, etc.
    However, these laws have been increasingly used to fund local government and political cronies. Texas is notorious for stopping people over nothing, and taking items, that have no bearing as to drugs, then
    the person is sent off without charges, knowing that
    they will not spend money on a lawyer to get back a radio, tools ,etc. The corruption of the police has become an old story, as they justify robbing in the name of law and justice.

  • Andrea
    Feb. 17, 2009 10:45 a.m.

    This is a sad situation of invasion of privacy. There are a lot of paranoid people out there right now that are ripping their money out of the financial instutions and stuffing in safes and under mattresses. Are they going to have the dogs sniff out all of those homes too?

  • Sam
    Feb. 17, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    First an illegal search, then illegal seizure. Have these cops never heard of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution? "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause...."

    Sure, it might be drug money... but first the police need probable cause and a warrant to search them, and then they need reason to believe that the money is drug money before they can confiscate it. Just because the people won't/can't tell the cops why they DO have it doesn't mean that the cops can take it assuming they have it illegally.

    And to top it all off, what is this bull about "They can come back with their attorney and give a legitimate reason for the money if they want it back?" People are presumed innocent, they don't have to prove that they have a legitimate reason for having the money, the police have to prove that they DON'T!

  • Fredd
    Feb. 17, 2009 9:57 a.m.

    While I concede it's 99.9% drug money, the charges of a lane violation and cracked windshield do sound trumped up. And for the officer to say he doesn't need a warrant or probable cause to have a drug dog sniff the car sounds bogus to me. Fundamentally it just doesn't seem right you can be pulled over and released with two minor trumped up traffic charges yet your property is confiscated. Utahns worry about slippery slopes a lot, well here's a pretty steep one.

  • Dan
    Feb. 17, 2009 9:57 a.m.

    I admit the circumstances are suspicious. But that isn't enough to seize $200,000 from someone. There needs to be more evidence than this before the cops can just take your money.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 17, 2009 8:32 a.m.

    How often do you drive around with $200,000 in your trunk? If you want to donate that, do it with a cashiers check from a bank, alot safer, and easier to claim on your taxes.

  • Xavier Onassis
    Feb. 17, 2009 8:15 a.m.

    OK, folks. It's real world time. It was drug money going back to a higher-up in the trafficking organization in California. With probable cause the proceeds of drug trafficking can be seized by law enforcement. As the story mentioned, the person has legal recourse to try to recover it, but most traffickers are very happy to be released. They won't be seen again until the next time they get caught, that is, if they survive the street justice imposed on those who lose the money, steal the dope, etc.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 17, 2009 8:03 a.m.

    I souds to me like Tank did a very good job, and he must be a well trained dog.

  • GF
    Feb. 17, 2009 7:56 a.m.

    Come on people, They are from South Dakota, you and I both know the only things going on in South Dakota are drugs and biker rallies and since it isn't August I think it is safe to assume it involves drugs.

  • Dan
    Feb. 17, 2009 7:39 a.m.

    It's scary to know that the police can take your money just because you "act suspiciously" - whatever that means.

    So the money "smelled like drugs"? Unless they can find drugs actually on the money (even microscopic amounts), that means nothing. My guess is that the police dog is so used to smelling money whenever it finds drugs (it's rare to find drugs without finding any money) that when it smelled the money in the trunk, since there was so much of it, that was enough to get it barking.

    Unless drugs are found on these people's money - GIVE IT BACK. Simply having a lot of cash on you isn't a crime.

  • dave
    Feb. 17, 2009 7:36 a.m.

    Another crushing blow to the constitution. There is no reason to explain why a person has cash. Our founding fathers must be rolling in their graves.

  • STB
    Feb. 17, 2009 5:56 a.m.

    It is called "filling a budget gap".

  • Sure
    Feb. 17, 2009 5:32 a.m.

    Cops and courts in Utah are thiefs..give yhem back their money, you have no proof of wrong doing

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 17, 2009 3:36 a.m.


  • Rich
    Feb. 17, 2009 12:34 a.m.

    Uhm? Since when can the cops just take your money from you and hold it because it's "suspicious"? Without a related charge, that money isn't evidence. Just another slip down the ladder of due process.