This is a frankly insane system.
This guy had $22,000 in cash because he was trying to buy a car. But the police stopped him for speeding and took the money because "normal people don't carry that much cash." They assumed it was for drugs and held a secret hearing with a judge and decided to keep his money.
After the media got involved the police gave it back, but made him drive from Jersey to Tennessee to pick it up. Other cases report the police gave back seized money only after the robbed American agreed to give up a percentage of it to the officer.
This isn't one or two bad cops: this is our system. This is Civil Forfeiture and it feels pretty fucking unconstitutional.
Man Loses $22,000 In New 'Policing For Profit' Case - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports
In this latest case, a Monterey police officer took $22,000 off the driver -- even though he had committed no crime.
"You live in the United States, you think you have rights -- and apparently you don't," said George Reby.
As a professional insurance adjuster, Reby spends a lot of time traveling from state to state. But it was on a trip to a conference in Nashville last January that he got a real education in Tennessee justice.
"I never had any clue that they thought they could take my money legally," Reby added. "I didn't do anything wrong."
Reby was driving down Interstate 40, heading west through Putnam County, when he was stopped for speeding.
A Monterey police officer wanted to know if he was carrying any large amounts of cash.
"I said, 'Around $20,000,'" he recalled. "Then, at the point, he said, 'Do you mind if I search your vehicle?' I said, 'No, I don't mind.' I certainly didn't feel I was doing anything wrong. It was my money."
That's when Officer Larry Bates confiscated the cash based on his suspicion that it was drug money.
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He said that, while police are required to get a judge to sign off on a seizure within five days, state law says that hearing "shall be ex parte" -- meaning only the officer's side can be heard.
That's why George Reby was never told that there was a hearing on his case.
"It wouldn't have mattered because the judge would have said, 'This says it shall be ex parte. Sit down and shut up. I'm not to hear from you -- by statute," Miles added.
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