Cops across the country are padding their budgets with hundreds of millions of dollars by seizing property from American citizens, even when they have not been charged with a crime.
This process–called asset forfeiture–allows police to take property for themselves if they suspect it is being used for a crime, and though it was recently limited by Attorney General Eric Holder, it’s still ripe for abuse.
Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, called asset forfeiture “a wonderful tool” during her confirmation hearing, so The Daily Caller News Foundation compiled seven of the most “wonderful” examples of the last decade.
1. Tan Nguyen hopped in his car excited about $50,000 in casino winnings. That excitement faded when he saw police lights in the rear view mirror. A Nevada police officer suspicious of the man’s large sum of cash confiscated it, Forbes reports. Nguyen said the cop threatened to seize and tow his car if he spoke up about it.
After hiring a lawyer, Nguyen was able to get his $50,000 back with attorney’s fees.
2. Matt Lee had his $2,400 cash confiscated from his car on a routine traffic stop. The worst part? It was taken by the same officer that targeted Nguyen: Deputy Lee Dove. In a shared settlement with Nguyen, Lee got his $2,400 back.
3. The Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit’s monthly “Funk Night” party got weird in May of 2008. The all-night dance party was raging when police burst in around 2 a.m., the Metro Times reports. Officers alleged the establishment did not have a license. They passed out loitering tickets and impounded 40 vehicles just because they were driven to the party. They all got their cars back. Oh, except for the one guy who had his car stolen from the impound lot. Also, they each paid a $900 impound fee, totaling more than $35,000.
4. Mississippi police pulled over a man for a routine traffic stop in July of 2013. An officer’s search of the vehicle found $360,000 in a secret compartment of the car. The police confiscated the money, though they had no proof the man committed a crime, ABC News reports. The report said cops “are not ruling out criminal activity.” Considering they confiscated his personal property, that seems right.
5. A New Jersey man’s stash of cash was taken by an officer when he traveled through Monterey, Tenn. George Reby had $22,000 cash in his car when he was stopped by a police officer, News Channel 5 reports. The officer took the money because he suspected it was drug money. However, the man said he was going to use the money to buy a car, for which he had active bids on Ebay, something he was able to prove on his computer. When the officer wrote up the report, he failed to mention Reby’s claim that he was going to buy a car.
“If somebody told me this happened to them, I absolutely would not believe this could happen in America,” Reby told News Channel 5.
6. Even though they didn’t charge her with a crime, Georgia police took $11,530 from Alda Gentile at a regular traffic stop, The Associated Press reports. They searched the car for drugs but found none. Gentile said she had the money for a house hunting trip to Florida.
7. A family in the Philadelphia suburbs that had their home seized by police because their son sold drugs out of the house, CNN reports. The son was charged for selling $40 of heroin, but the parents say they didn’t know about it. (RELATED: Rand Paul Tries To Stop Cops From Stealing Your Stuff)