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tkmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:05 PM
Original message
Federal Appeals Court: Driving With Money is a Crime
"A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that if a motorist is carrying large sums of money, it is automatically subject to confiscation. In the case entitled, "United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit took that amount of cash away from Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez, a man with a "lack of significant criminal history" neither accused nor convicted of any crime.

On May 28, 2003, a Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez's name was not on the rental contract. The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez -- who did not speak English well -- and search the car. The trooper found a cooler containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police, this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows the force to keep the seized money.

Associates of Gonzolez testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez's story."


I have always believed that a great many of these confiscations of money and property over alleged drug offenses were unfair. This one surpasses unfair and goes straight to ridiculous.

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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:11 PM
Response to Original message
1. Being a thieven' cop is legal
That's pretty much what it is. The police and the prisons are predators that feed on the
popuation like a destructive cancer, killing everything they leech off-of, destrying people
for a living, and their host to boot!

And what is the real crime here? It is being poor. It is being ignorant of the legal system,
and deprived of economic equality in trade by the property-classes... and it is being named
'gonzalez'.... a crime in bush districts, unless bribes and protection fees are paid up...
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
2. Who has the money now? NT
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Skip Intro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Our government.
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 09:25 PM by Skip Intro
the case was titled "The United States vs..." - so I suspect some arm of the federal government, maybe the DEA.

It could be state level government instead, since it was state police that did the seizing, or some state-level arm thereof.

So basically, the government took the money from the citizen, and then deemed it legal. Without any proof.

God, I love the smell of freedom in the evening.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. I think the local police dept gets a cut of the take. nt
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Kiouni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. In nebraska
the Narcotics division in our police department fund taxes. They run off of seized money.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. Unfair and unconstitutional
but citing the popularity of the drug war among suburban parents, the USSC has consistently ruled to uphold these laws which SO violate the fourth amendment.

You can have your property seized at any time under mere suspicion, like some acquaintance who is nursing a grudge dropping a dime and lying to the cops. You have to pay a bond up front in order to get your property returned. Sometimes, even that isn't enough. Your property is considered guilty of a crime even if you are totally innocent of it.

That is what is so weird.

Police departments all over the country have done very well from the forefeiture laws, able to sell property at auction to buy enough equipment to fully militarize themselves.

The forefeiture laws were aimed at drug kingpins running speedboats out to the three mile limit to pick up shipments and at their mansions and warehouses on shore. The laws were meant to clip their wings even if enough couldn't be found to convict them. However, more and more, they're used against small timers, casual users, and people who are totally innocent but who fit some stupid profile like Mr. Gonzolez. He's not the first and he won't be the last.

That is why these laws need to be overturned. They didn't do a thing to stop major players but have hurt ordinary people tremendously. Plus, they ARE unconstitutional.
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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:35 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. I was detained in Miami for possessing an "excessive amount" of cash
the airport assholes gave me 27 different kinds of grief and contacted the FBI, DEA, and IRS.

The cash was totally legit and the bastards just screwed with me because they could.

Held us for around 30 hours.
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 10:06 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Most I had was $9500 on me at one time
Won a case against workers' comp in Ohio and my Attorney went with me to the bank and got out half for me, the other half the bank did not have on hand and gave me a cashier's check. I was driving to another bank, and from there to my bank, to get the remainder. I just wanted to hold it, and was using part of it for a car since mine was dead.

Had I been pulled over at that time, I shudder to think....
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:29 PM
Response to Original message
5. Two things
One link is broken.

Two This is outrageous given that we evidently can't touch Ken Lay's money since he died before sentencing.
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:21 PM
Response to Original message
10. What about the 4th Amendment? Or illegal Search and Seizure?
Or has it become "quaint"?
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ninkasi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:02 AM
Response to Original message
11. Among the many other disturbing aspects of this case
the fact that the dog alerted to the cooler could mean than residue of a drug might have been on one of the bills, but that in no way proves that the person possessing the money had anything to do with drugs. I don't know what the turnover rate is for currency, but I imagine it goes through quite a few hands during it's public lifespan. This is a blatant abuse of authority, another insane policy brought about by one of the other un-winnable wars, the so-called "War on Drugs".

I think we at DU need to declare a "War on Stupid Conservatives", myself. Face it, we have lots of ammo when it comes to detailing their stupidity.
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TransitJohn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #11
14. Drug dogs are bullshit
I've seen countless instances of "trained" K-9 officers simply holding up the dogs paw to the side of a vehicle....the officers then say, "the dog alerted," and proceed to go into full blown military cop mode.....dogs are for show, to get what they want, a violation of your rights...smokescreen.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:59 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. All bills contain drug traces...
It has been reported that cocaine is common enough
in our society that essentially all bills contain
detectable amounts of the drug.

Even if the claim isn't quite true, its a dead-bang
certainty from a probability point of view that a cooler
full of cash will contain traces of cocaine at
levels that could be detected by scientific instruments
and probably by dogs.

Yes, we are getting to the point where the cops can
ALWAYS find probably cause should they "need"
it to detain you.

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Downtown Hound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:10 AM
Response to Original message
12. Scary
I'm about to sell my car. So according to this ruling, if someone pays me in cash and I'm driving to the bank and get pulled over, the fucking pigs can just take my money and not give it back. What bullshit. This country needs a serious revolution and it needs one soon.
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Warren DeMontague Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:21 AM
Response to Original message
13. The core conceit of the "drug war" is that your own BLOODSTREAM isnt yours
The government is, essentially, telling consenting adults that it owns their bodies. They don't belong to the individual to make choices about.

The Fourth Amendment has been rendered null and void by this boondoggle for decades. Well before we had "terra" as an excuse to shred the Constitution.

This case is hardly a surprise.
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snappyturtle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:57 AM
Response to Original message
15. Unreal and scary!
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benEzra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:09 AM
Response to Original message
17. Notice the legal fiction that the CASH committed the crime...
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 10:09 AM by benEzra
it is United States vs. $124,700 in U.S. currency, NOT United States vs. Gonzolez. That's because Gonzolez is a person, and as such as civil rights, including the right to due process, and the right not to have his property stolen.

By creating the legal fiction that the government is completely ignoring Mr. Gonzolez, and is simply prosecuting his money, then the government can get around such niceties as due process and the Fourth Amendment. Money doesn't have civil rights, people do (so the argument goes), so you can prosecute and convict money on mere suspicion.

Never mind the fact that the money didn't hop in the car and drive to Chicago, and that it BELONGED to Mr. Gonzolez, who is a "person" under the Fourth Amendment.

If an armed robber accosted you but said he wasn't threatening you as a person, but was just abducting your money, I don't think a judge would buy it; it'd still be armed robbery. We shouldn't let the state get away with that line, either.

This is absolutely terrible, and I hope that the ACLU gets involved in this in a BIG way.
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