Tag Archives: civil asset forfeiture

Break the Cycle: In 2019, Say No to the Government’s Cruelty, Brutality and Abuse, by John W. Whitehead

The Founders are spinning in their graves. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”—Edmund Burke

Folks, it’s time to break the cycle.

Let’s make 2019 the year we say no to the laundry list of abuses—cruel, brutal, immoral, unconstitutional and unacceptable—that have been heaped upon us by the government for way too long.

Let’s make 2019 the year we stop living in a state of utter denial, desensitized to the government’s acts of violence, accustomed to reports of government corruption, and anesthetized to the sights and sounds of Corporate America marching in lockstep with the police state.

Let’s make 2019 the year we refuse to allow the government’s abusive behavior to be our new normal. There is nothing normal about egregious surveillance, roadside strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, censorship, retaliatory arrests, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, indefinite detentions, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, police brutality, profit-driven prisons, or pay-to-play politicians.

Here’s just a small sampling of what we suffered through in 2018.

The government failed to protect our lives, liberty and happiness. The predators of the police state wreaked havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government didn’t listen to the citizenry, refused to abide by the Constitution, and treated the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers shot unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents—including local police—were armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies were allowed to fleece taxpayers. Government technicians spied on our emails and phone calls. And government contractors made a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

The president became more imperial. Although the Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents (Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.) have claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill. The powers amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whomever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability. The presidency itself has become an imperial one with permanent powers.

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Texas Police Made Over $50 Million in 2017 From Seizing People’s Property, by Edgar Walters and Jolie Mccullough

This is a fine example of a dying art: real journalism. Edgar Walters and Jolie Mccullough have written an in-depth story about civil asset forfeiture. It’s clear where their sympathies lie. However, they also give due account to the other side and let readers make up their own minds. From Walters and Mccullough at the Texas Tribune via theantimedia.org:

In February 2016, prosecutors in Houston filed a lawsuit against a truck: State of Texas vs. One 2003 Chevrolet Silverado.

Houston police had seized the vehicle after surveilling its driver, Macario Hernandez, and pulling him over after he left his house. They took the truck to court, hoping to keep it or sell it at auction to fund their operations, claiming the vehicle was known to be involved in the drug trade.

But the truck’s owner, Oralia Rodriguez, was never charged with a crime. She wasn’t at the scene when officers pulled over Hernandez, her son, and found 13.5 grams of marijuana in his pocket. In fact, Rodriguez said she had recently loaned him the car so he could drive his pregnant girlfriend to the doctor. The girlfriend was having difficulty with her pregnancy and was at risk of losing the baby, Rodriguez said. She was desperate not to lose her truck, which had recently had new tires installed among other repairs, which she was still working to pay off.

“My sole intention was to help out. … Now I am in this situation of losing what I have worked very hard for,” she wrote to local prosecutors. “I am begging you please allow me to have my truck back.”

 

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?