Tag Archives: civil asset forfeiture

Government now wants to seize your car for going 5 MPH over the limit, by Simon Black

Civil asset forfeiture easily ranks in the top 10 list of government scams, although there’s plenty of competition. From sovereignman.com:

We’ve discussed this on and off for several years now. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process that allows the government to seize assets and cash from citizens without any due process or judicial oversight.

You don’t even have to be charged with a crime. You are assumed guilty unless you can somehow prove your innocence.

Of course, not everyone has this ability… if you aren’t local, state, or federal law enforcement, this is called stealing, and you go to prison.

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But the government is actually a bigger problem than common thieves.

A 2015 report showed that law enforcement used civil asset forfeiture to steal more from US residents than every thief, robber, and burglar in America combined.

About $4.5 BILLION worth of cash, cars, homes, and other property is taken by civil asset forfeiture each year — hundreds of millions more than common criminals steal.

And it happens at every level. Your local cop can use civil asset forfeiture just like your state trooper. And then any one of the armed agents of the US government—from the FBI to the Fish and Wildlife Service—can rob you for whatever reason they want.

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The Real Thieves

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2018/08/06/the-real-thieves/

A 64-year-old put his life savings in his carry-on. U.S. Customs took it without charging him with a crime. By Christopher Ingraham

Welcome to the bizarre and unjust world of civil asset forfeiture. From Christopher Ingraham at washingtonpost.com:


Rustem Kazazi. left, at home with wife Lejla and son Erald in Parma Heights, Ohio. (Institute for Justice)

A 64-year-old Cleveland man is suing U.S. Customs and Border Protection after agents strip-searched him at an airport in October and took more than $58,000 in cash from him without charging him with any crime, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week in Ohio.

Customs agents seized the money through a process known as civil asset forfeiture, a law enforcement technique that allows authorities to take cash and property from people who are never convicted or even charged with a crime. The practice is widespread at the federal level. In 2017, federal authorities seized more than $2 billion in assets from people, a net loss similar in size to annual losses from residential burglaries in the United States.

Customs says it suspects that the petitioner in the case, Rustem Kazazi, was involved in smuggling, drug trafficking or money laundering. Kazazi denies those allegations and says that the agency is violating federal law by keeping his money without filing any formal complaint against him.

Kazazi is a retired officer with the Albanian police who relocated with his family to the United States in 2005 after receiving visas through the State Department’s lottery program. They became U.S. citizens in 2010. After several years away, Kazazi planned a trip to Albania last fall to visit relatives, make repairs on a family property and potentially purchase a vacation home.

He took $58,100 in U.S. currency with him, the product of 12 years of savings by Kazazi, his wife, Lejla, and his son Erald, who is finishing a chemical engineering degree at Cleveland State University, according to the lawsuit. The family lives in Parma Heights, a suburb of Cleveland.

In an interview translated by his son, Kazazi said safety concerns prompted him to take cash on his trip, rather than wire the funds to a local bank.

“The crime [in Albania] is much worse than it is here,” he said. “Other people that have made large withdrawals [from Albanian banks] have had people intercept them and take their money. The exchange rates and fees are [also] excessive.”

To continue reading: A 64-year-old put his life savings in his carry-on. U.S. Customs took it without charging him with a crime.

If We Want Your Money, We’ll Take Your Money… by Eric Peters

Civil asset forfeiture is legalized government theft. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

We live in a Deliverance nation. If the government wants your money, they’ll take your money – simple as that.

Rustem Kazazi, 64, was recently relieved of his life savings – $58,100 – by the US Customs and Border Protection “service.” The money was found in his possession – and that was enough to take it from him, without so much as a traffic violation alleged.

Kazazi was traveling by air to his native Albania and – stupidly, but not illegally – brought the cash with him to the airport, intending to use it to buy a retirement home on the Adriatic coast. He packed the money in neat bundles, put it in his carry-on luggage. During his “screening” by the Heimat Sicherheitsdeinst – Homeland Security, rendered in the appropriate German – the money was found and that was all it took to take it.

No charges were filed against Kazazi – and he’s never been convicted of anything. But his money’s gone.

Under the asset forfeiture laws recently defended by the chief law enforcer of the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions – it is not only acceptable  but meritorious to simply take people’s life savings without any legal process whatsoever – beyond the mere grabbing of the money by law enforcers, that is.

Possession of cash – any amount, there is no defined amount below which it is deemed not-illicit and beyond which it is deemed illicit – provides all the warrant necessary to simply take the money. Could be $58,100 or $5,800 or $580 or $58. It doesn’t matter. You have money. They want your money.

Now get up against that tree.

Kazazi is attempting to recover his funds via a lawsuit, with help from the Institute for Justice. But the vile fact is this is not some backwoods aberration. It is the policy of the government generally; it is defended by the highest law enforcement authority in the country and by the president himself.

That horrible little man – Sessions – has gloated openly about the delights of taking money from people without having to deal with the inconvenience of charging and then convicting them of a criminal act first. He and other defenders of asset forfeiture regard the mere possession of cash as ipso facto proof that those possessing it are “drug dealers.” He is not only unconcerned about due process – about establishing via proof, in court, that a person committed a crime – he is contemptuous of it. And by dint of that, Sessions has established himself as no better than the crazed hillbilly in the 1972 movie.

To continue reading: If We Want Your Money, We’ll Take Your Money…

These People Lost Everything to Big Government … Are You Next? by Mark Nestman

Sometimes putting human faces on what the government does to people is more effective than reams of statistics and denunciations. From Mark Nestman at nestman.com:

In one of his most memorable statements, former President Ronald Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

When faced with a truly intractable problem, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and wait for the government to solve it. Whether it’s ensuring sustainable development, fighting the war on drugs, or any other difficult issue, the mainstream media tells us time and again that government ought to pass a law to fix it.

I beg to differ. Here are two stories about people who lost everything to government through no fault of their own. And you could be next.

Retirement Wiped Out by Executive Order

Tom and Jane Flagg have lived in Jersey City, New Jersey for the past 42 years. Only 24 hours before they were scheduled to sell their property there and retire in Tennessee, their lives fell apart.

The Flaggs arrived in Jersey City in the 1970s. The city was rife with crime, but property was cheap. They took a chance and purchased two small homes, both over 100 years old. The homes were well-built, but they needed a great deal of renovation, which the Flaggs did mostly themselves. The family lived in one home and rented out the other.

Forty years later, the neighborhood they bought into has gentrified. Property values have skyrocketed.  The Flaggs, now much older, wanted to cash in on the modest nest egg they had painstakingly created. They put the homes up for sale and quickly found a buyer. The closing date was March 24, 2018.

But at the last minute, it was all snatched away from them. On March 23, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop destroyed their retirement with the stroke of a pen. He issued an executive order to stop granting demolition permits for homes that housed four or fewer families. This directly affected the Flaggs, because their buyer planned to tear down both homes and build new structures in their place.

Fulop justified his order in the name of “architectural preservation.” The only way a builder can obtain a demolition permit now is to get approval from the Jersey City historic preservation officer. If that person turns the permit down, the builder can appeal to the Historic Preservation Commission.

To continue reading: These People Lost Everything to Big Government … Are You Next?

 

By Imperial Decree, by Robert Gore

A dangerous expansion of presidential power has gone virtually unnoticed.

Trump’s supporters can’t believe their man’s primary motivation is acquiring power. Trump’s enemies, other than Senator Feinstein, can’t believe how good he is at it. Neither side will recognize the real danger until it’s too late. Legions of worrywarts fret that an erratic, captured Trump will go off half-cocked and press a nuclear button or do something else almost as stupidly devastating. What should worry them are the precise calculations and bloodless strategies of the most ruthlessly Machiavellian president since Franklin D. Roosevelt as he further consolidates and extends his power. Given present jurisprudence, nothing in the Constitution stands in his way.

So Deep It’s Sunk,” SLL, 9/3/17

Exhibit One would be President Trump’s Executive Order Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption, dated December 20, 2017. Within various executive orders issued by Trump’s predecessors, there are provisions that would scare the daylights out of any civil libertarian who had the time and intestinal fortitude to go through them. Trump has now added to this dubious pile.

In the finest tradition of such orders, regulations, and laws, the preamble cites Humongous Dangers.

I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that the prevalence and severity of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, such as those committed or directed by persons listed in the Annex to this order, have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons.

I therefore determine that serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

President Trump’s Executive Order

By imperial decree, Trump assumes the power to block, or freeze, the property within the reach or control of the US government of, “any foreign person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General” to have engaged in, “serious human rights abuse” or “corruption.” The power to freeze assets is extended to any entity, including a government, which is led by or has an official who the Gang of Three determine is corrupt or a serious human rights abuser. Thirteen people listed in the annex are so labeled, although it appears that for most of them their crimes are alleged, not established by a judicial determination. An additional 39 individuals and entities were named in a Treasury Department release.

The power is also extended to anyone, US citizen or foreign national, who has “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of” corrupt or human rights abusing foreigners. Keep in mind the government’s wholesale surveillance of Americans began with the claim that it would only be applied to Americans’ foreign contacts. The definition of foreign contacts in that instance has been stretched beyond recognition; look for something similar here.

The order specifies that no prior notice will be given to those whose property is blocked. No judicial recourse is provided, only that the Secretary of Treasury, “in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.” Presumably enabling regulations will detail how those—whether listed in the annex or named later—whose assets are frozen can petition the Secretary of Treasury, if the accused has enough unfrozen assets to hire the necessary legal assistance and run the bureaucratic gamut.

This is civil asset forfeiture going global and running amuck. Civil asset forfeiture allows state and local governments and the federal government to seize assets it deems involved in crime, with no requirement that the property owner be found guilty of any crime. The burden is then on property owners to prove the “innocence” of their property in a judicial proceeding to reclaim the property. Abuse is rampant. In 2014 government took more through civil asset forfeiture ($4.5 billion) than the total lost in burglaries ($3.9 billion, according to the FBI). Fourteen states have amended their laws to require a criminal conviction in most or all forfeiture cases.

Sometimes the federal government and either state or local governments team up and split the booty (the Equitable Sharing Program). Barack Obama tried to stop this practice, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reinstated it. President Trump endorsed expansive civil asset forfeiture in off-the-cuff remarks to the National Sheriff’s Association at the White House in February. It’s unclear if Trump knew exactly what he was endorsing.

Judging by this newest executive order, he might have. The executive order does not allow the government to seize the assets in question. However, a freeze, as civil asset forfeiture demonstrates, can be tantamount to seizure for the property owner if it leaves the individual or entity without access to resources. And a future executive order could allow the government to confiscate what it has frozen, which would turn Trump’s executive order into the global equivalent of civil asset forfeiture.

The US government simply has to label a foreign person or entity guilty of corruption or human rights abuse, and not only can their assets be frozen, but the assets of any US citizen or entity that the government determines assisted the foreign person or entity can be as well. This further erodes the tattered remnant of American property rights. Multinational corporations down to individuals now have to worry that their foreign contacts and transactions might run afoul of a bureaucratic determination of culpability by those with whom they contacted or transacted, exposing them to an asset freeze.

The Trump Administration quietly issued an Executive Order (EO) last Thursday…

Zero Hedge, “New Trump Executive Order Targets Clinton-Linked Individuals, Lobbyists, And Perhaps Uranium One” 12/28/17

In “Is Trump Winning?” SLL said that, “when Trump does anything quietly, take note.” Aside from the Zero Hedge article there has been remarkably little said in either the mainstream or alternative media about this sweeping order, though it puts within the Trump Administration’s grasp a substantial portion of the world’s assets. The Zero Hedge article was generally laudatory, and that site has long been vigilant concerning expanding government and its many dangers.

President Trump is amassing power. Civil liberties are merely an obstacle, notwithstanding his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. Some of his fans are delighted that this new executive order will make it easier for him to go after his enemies, especially the detested Clintons and their foundation. The 13 people listed in the annex are alleged to have done dastardly deeds, and some have ties to the Clintons. However, executive orders establish law and precedent, and this one will give a future president the power to go after a different set of enemies—maybe Trump supporters or even Trump himself.

Perhaps legislation would have to be passed or an executive order promulgated allowing the president to jail anyone he or she chooses without a trial before they’d see the danger, and even then they might not object…at least until Trump was out of office. For the rest of us, the message is clear: Trump craves power and is adept at acquiring it. The modus operandi of governments is clear: what they acquire is taken from someone else. What Trump acquires will ultimately be at the cost of our liberty and individual rights. Once they’re gone, there’s nothing left.

START THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT!

AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

“Give Us The Man, We Will Make The Case”: Civil Forfeiture, RussiaGate And The Police State, by Jim Jatras

There is not usually an announcement as to when a government becomes a police state. It’s more a gradual slide, and the US government has been sliding. From Jim Jatras at washingtonbabylon.com:

How to legally rob a 73-year-old Amtrak employee and lock up citizens for non-crimes

Uncle Joe meets Uncle Sam: We have met the enemy and it is us. Photo credit: WikiCommons.

When do we realize we’re already living in a police state?

Maybe one clue is when our betters make a point of assuring us that we aren’t. Here’s Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House Judiciary Committee inquiry into political bias in the Robert Mueller “Russia-gate” investigation:

Department of Justice employees are united by a shared understanding that our mission is to pursue justice, protect public safety, preserve government property, defend civil rights, and promote the rule of law.

Rosenstein’s contempt for his interlocutors’ intelligence was unconcealed. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Rod’s on the job! Americans can certainly sleep peacefully tonight.

Or maybe not. Besides cracking down on states’ playing fast and loose with federal marijuana laws, one of the first enforcement actions ordered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Recused) was to step up use of civil forfeiture, which is a fancy way of saying “taking the property of people who have not been convicted of anything, or even accused of anything, with little recourse.”

But no sweat, there are “safeguards” to assure that property seizures only impact drug kingpins and gangsters – right?

Sessions’s order . . .  resuscitates a practice known as “federal adoption,” which allows police and prosecutors to circumvent state restrictions on asset seizures by collaborating with federal authorities. Through this partnership, state and local authorities turn their seizures over to federal colleagues, who “adopt” them for prosecution—ultimately returning up to eighty per cent of the assets to the originating cops or prosecutors to keep. One result, often unaddressed in critiques of forfeiture, is the tacit encouragement of racial profiling and targeting of property owners of color, who remain prime targets of the practice in much of the country.

To continue reading: “Give Us The Man, We Will Make The Case”: Civil Forfeiture, RussiaGate And The Police State