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More mischief in forfeiture land…

On April 14, 2013, in states, by Scott Alexander Meiner

Kansas enacts legislation giving the state power to bring forfeiture proceedings against property in Shawnee County in addition to the originating jurisdiction. The power to seek a more favorable venue was backed by the Kansas Attorney General and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

In Maryland, the Baltimore Police Department is reportedly using asset forfeiture funds to fly a member of the department brass to Sweden for a peace-keeping course offered by the United Nations.

North Carolina considers a bill to expand asset forfeiture against real property for nuisance abatement. Included in the bill is a provision allowing authorities to retain forfeited property for official use. Assuming retained use did not constitute forfeiture proceeds, the bill would appear to provide departments who’ve had access to the U.S. Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program suspended a way to continue legally profiting from forfeitures. North Carolina’s Constitution requires that “the clear proceeds of all penalties and forfeitures and of all fines collected in the several counties for any breach of the penal laws of the State, shall belong to and remain in the several counties, and shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for maintaining free public schools.” North Carolina law enforcement departments largely run seizures through the U.S. Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program to evade such constitutional directives.

Pennsylvania police chief resigns amid allegations of “unauthorized withdrawals and deposits on the account funded through the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program.”

Illinois ranked last (again) among the several states in personal freedoms as a result of their draconian asset forfeiture laws and anachronistic (and draconian) drug laws.

Alabama authorities released figures indicating a $14,000.00 state trooper cost for a raid in which troopers seized some 1,600 gaming devices and more than $220,000.00 in cash from the Victoryland Casino. Law enforcement claim the gaming devices are being used illegally. Victoryland Casino disagrees. Law enforcement are currently fighting to remove the presiding judge due to the judge’s previous unwillingness to sign a warrant authorizing the seizure of the gaming devices.

Questions raised about an outgoing Georgia sheriff’s rapid depletion of the asset forfeiture fund account: “The federal forfeiture account in July had more than $2 million, but by December had about $1,000 after checks had cleared after the audit, Woodruff said. The audit report showed that more than $1.1 million in merchandise or funds from this account were given to Georgia State Patrol headquarters in Atlanta to be distributed to posts statewide.” A retired Chief Deputy wrote a letter in October warning that the give-away constituted a concerted effort to sabotage the incoming sheriff.

In Missouri and Montana, city councils approve expenditures of asset forfeiture funds while expressing concerns that forfeiture fund accounts are stocked by seizing property from people who haven’t been convicted of crimes.


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