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Wed May 16, 2012, 11:52 AM

The Rude Pundit - Tennessee: Where Stop and Frisk Meets Extortion by Cop

Here's one you might not have heard before:

In Tennessee (state motto: "As Bugfuck Crazy as Arizona But with Humidity"), back in January, New Jersey insurance adjuster George Reby was driving towards a conference in Nashville. He had $22,000 in cash with him. He was pulled over for speeding, and when the cop questioned him, Reby made one mistake, according to the affidavit of Putman County Officer Larry Bates. Bates asked Reby if he had pot or coke in the car. Reby said he did not. And then he said he had never been arrested. Turns out he had been arrested twenty years before for cocaine possession, but found not guilty. That part didn't matter. He did tell Bates about the cash when the officer asked him. And Reby consented to a vehicle search. So Bates brought in a K-9 unit named Fonzie, and Fonzie picked up the scent of something, some drug residue on the money perhaps, but no drugs were found.

Bates checked the GPS in the car, which was set for a small airport nearby. Reby said he was picking someone up and head to the conference. Bates checked Reby's text messages on his cell phone and didn't like what some of them said, although drugs were not mentioned. Bates said in his affidavit that each thing he discovered heightened his suspicions that Reby was involved in selling drugs and that "common people do not carry this much currency." Bates asked Reby if he had bank accounts, and Reby said he did. As Bates later told a Nashville Channel 5 reporter, "The safest place to put your money if it's legitimate is in a bank account. He stated he had two. I would put it in a bank account. It draws interest and it's safer."

It's good to know that a police officer understands how banks work.

So Bates took the money and the cell phone under Tennessee's property forfeiture laws. Why? On the paperwork, Bates checked off the box that says that the officer believes he/she has "probable cause" that the property would be used "in exchange for a controlled substance." Besides, the money was being kept rolled up in a tool bag under the seat. Kind of hinky, no?

"But it's not illegal to carry cash," Channel 5 said.

"No, it's not illegal to carry cash," Bates said. "Again, it's what the cash is being used for to facilitate or what it is being utilized for."

Channel 5 noted, "But you had no proof that money was being used for drug trafficking, correct? No proof?"

"And he couldn't prove it was legitimate," Bates insisted. However, Reby did hand over the cash voluntarily. He did not make Bates find it.

Oh, one thing: Bates admitted to a news reporter that Redy told him that the money was to purchase a car. Bates chose to leave that out of his report. Why? "I don't know," said Officer Bates.

Reby provided the cops with documentation that he was buying a car. Also, it turns out that Reby really was picking up someone who was registered, with Reby, for the conference, which was also real. Reby really needed the Nashville airport. Reby just asked the GPS to find area airports. He had just received a text that the friend's flight had arrived.

Fun story, no? In Tennessee, the local cops around the state have been seizing large sums of cash from drivers for some time. Why? Because it's a gamble. Should the cash actually be from a drug dealer, chances are that the person is not going to ask for it back and the locality gets to keep it. Tennessee law "requires the person whose money was taken to post a $350 bond before an appeal can be heard. Also, 'failure to request a hearing in a timely manner will result in your losing your interest in the above property.'" The hearing itself is ex parte, which means that only the cop's side of the story is heard. Even if an appeal is filed, it can take a couple of years to get the cash back. It's a hella cool scam.

One local attorney, who is the chair of the local Tea Party, has had two clients in these kinds of cases where "police agreed to drop the cases in exchange for a cut of the money -- $1,000 in one case, $2,000 in another. In both cases, that was less than what they might have paid in attorney fees." He calls it "extortion."

Once Channel 5 got involved, Reby got his cash back this month. But, just to put an insouciant glaze of dickishness on the whole thing, they made him go back to Tennessee for the check.

A final piece: the Tennessee Legislature had a chance to set up an investigative committee on such activities by the police, but the bill died when the legislative session ended (but not before the "gateway sexual activity" bill passed).

If you believe that "Stop and Frisk" by the cops in New York City has worked to reduce crime, you are acceding to the power of a police state. And chances are that you belong to a population that is not subject to the whims of the NYPD.

But, at some point, once you remove the checks of due process and evidence and real probable cause, whether it's walking around the Bronx or going through airport security or protesting in Chicago or speeding across Tennessee, it will come around to bite you on the ass. And maybe take your cash, which ought to be enough to get even the most hardened, baton-fellating, cop-loving right winger into a froth.

(Note: Channel 5 has done yeoman's work on the subject of police abuse of forfeiture laws, even winning a DuPont award for its investigations. It's worth checking out to see what real TV journalism looks like.)

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Rude Pundit - Tennessee: Where Stop and Frisk Meets Extortion by Cop (Original post)
meegbear May 2012 OP
Odin2005 May 2012 #1
Sinistrous May 2012 #2
Lars39 May 2012 #3
hifiguy May 2012 #4
Matariki May 2012 #16
Scruffy1 May 2012 #5
pscot May 2012 #9
truebrit71 May 2012 #11
KatyMan May 2012 #19
loudsue May 2012 #6
gratuitous May 2012 #7
geardaddy May 2012 #12
Liberal_in_LA May 2012 #8
Uncle Joe May 2012 #10
Nye Bevan May 2012 #13
RainDog May 2012 #14
valerief May 2012 #15
Blue_Tires May 2012 #17
JHB May 2012 #18
HeiressofBickworth May 2012 #20
malaise May 2012 #21
phantom power May 2012 #22

Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 11:54 AM

1. Cops = legalized extortion racket

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 11:56 AM

2. k&r

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 11:57 AM

3. They are doing it with Homeland Security help,too.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 11:57 AM

4. The cops resemble the Mafia more every day.

Beat people up, kill them, torture/electrocute them, forcibly take their cash, shake down the citizenry. But at least Capone operated soup kitchens during the Depression.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #4)

Wed May 16, 2012, 02:45 PM

16. The cops resemble third world justice more every day.

Where bribes and corruption are the norm.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 12:22 PM

5. He forgot rule number one.

It's simple. Never talk to cops. Give them your drivers license and STFU. There seems to be this strange belief that if your not breaking the law you can "explain" things. There is no rule number two.

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Response to Scruffy1 (Reply #5)

Wed May 16, 2012, 12:44 PM

9. Basic survival

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Response to Scruffy1 (Reply #5)

Wed May 16, 2012, 01:29 PM

11. Yup. The absolute GOLDEN RULE. Rule number one - Never talk to cops

Rule number two - If you think talking with the cops will help you, see Rule number one.

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Response to truebrit71 (Reply #11)

Wed May 16, 2012, 03:25 PM

19. and NEVER

let them into your house.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 12:33 PM

6. Louisiana has those laws, too. In fact, I think Texas does, too, if

I'm not mistaken. There are a lot of states that have managed to line their pockets with their legalized extortion laws.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 12:36 PM

7. Oh, can you people just get OVER it???

I am fed up to here (my right index finger is just above my Adam's apple) with all your whining about "due process" and "evidence" and "probable cause." We are the United Fucking States of By God America, here, and we don't have time for your namby-pamby lawyerball antics. If we think we see a terrorist tooling around Yemen like the goddam Queen of England, VOOM! drone missile strike baby, problem solved. If you're driving around with more money than we think you should have, fuhgeddaboudit.

We're locked in an existential battle with evil forces here, and that means your pwecious widdle rights are gonna need a haircut. Besides, if you haven't done anything wrong, there's very little for you to worry about. Just get over it, and get with the program. Unless you're one of those terrorists/drug dealers/jaywalkers. In which case, we'll get around to you, just be patient, Abdul.

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #7)

Wed May 16, 2012, 01:41 PM

12. DUzy

but sadly true.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 12:39 PM

8. Thanks for posting this. Such an important topic

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 12:51 PM

10. This is an excellent OP and kudos to Channel 5.

Thanks for the thread, meegbear.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 01:46 PM

13. Civil forfeiture is a disgrace.

It should be banned.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 01:59 PM

14. excellent post

glad to see Channel 5 is still doing good investigative journalism, too.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 02:33 PM

15. Welcome to the U.S.S.A. nt

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 02:52 PM

17. I'm amused they interviewed the local teabagger

instead of the ACLU or somebody...

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 02:58 PM

18. Forfeiture laws have been this crazy for over 20 years

Aren't you glad cops can just seize assets of drug kingpins without that silly "due process" technicalities?

Thanks Republicans, for not coddling criminals like George Reby!

, in case anyone can't figure that out.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 05:10 PM

20. This racket has been going on for ever

In 1978 a friend and I took a genealogy research trip to the mid-west. On the way back to the west coast, along I-80 through Nebraska, I was over the speed limit (no argument there). Sure enough, there was a State Patrol car behind me, pulled me over. His first question was whether I had a CB or other communication unit in my car. At the time, this didn't raise my suspicions. I said no. He then asked if I knew I was speeding. I was very humble and said I was sorry. He then went on about how much money a ticket would cost and that it would be ok to pay him for it. For some unknown reason, didn't think it through before hand, I said I would be glad to follow him to the nearest police station or court house to pay the fine. His story changed immediately. He put away his ticket book, never having written anything down, and went on and on about dead bodies on the freeway due to speeding. He let me go without a ticket. It actually took me quite a while to figure out that he was trying to shake me down and when I offered to pay in an official location, he dropped it.

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 05:17 PM

21. WTF???

Is it fascism yet?

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Response to meegbear (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 05:39 PM

22. If you build a police state, someone will use it.

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