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January 27, 2010

Posted by Alexandra Natapoff at 10:15 AM

"The Forfeiture Racket"

Here's another important story from Radley Balko at Reason Magazine entitled "The Forfeiture Racket." It chronicles the disturbing history of our powerful drug forfeiture laws, and how governments have seized literally billions of dollars from innocent people. Here's an excerpt:

Over the past three decades, it has become routine in the United States for state, local, and federal governments to seize the property of people who were never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Nearly every year, according to Justice Department statistics, the federal government sets new records for asset forfeiture. And under many state laws, the situation is even worse: State officials can seize property without a warrant and need only show "probable cause" that the booty was connected to a drug crime in order to keep it, as opposed to the criminal standard of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt." Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, owners of seized property all too often have a heavier burden of proof than the government officials who stole their stuff.

According to Balko, the U.S. Justice Department's forfeiture fund reached $3.1 billion in 2008; less than 20 percent of seizures involved property belonging to people who were actually prosecuted.

Informants play an important role in forfeiture. Not only can the government rely on informants to meet its evidentiary burden of showing that the property is connected to criminal activity, but under federal law, informants can receive bounties of as much as 25 percent of the value of the seized assets. For an overview of U.S. informant-forfeiture practices, see Joachin Alemany, United States Contracts with Informants: An Illusory Promise?, 33 Univ. of Miami Inter-American Law Rev. 251 (2002).

Comments

Re: The Forfeiture Racket

Most property and business owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Forfeiture claim an “innocent owner defense.” This defense can become a criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial to the government when questioned about committing a crime “even when you did not do it” can “involuntarily waive” your right to assert in your defense—the “Criminal Statute of Limitations” has passed for prosecution. Any fresh denial of guild, even 30 years after a crime was committed may allow Government prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent property and business owners are reluctant to defend their property and businesses from Government Civil Asset Forfeiture. Re: waiving Criminal Statute of Limitations: see USC18, Sec.1001, James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579.

There are over 200 U.S. laws and violations mentioned in the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 and the Patriot Act that can subject property to civil asset forfeiture. Under federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property. In the U.S. private security companies and their operatives work so closely with law enforcement to forfeit property—providing intelligence information, they appear to merge with police.

Under the USA Patriot Act, witnesses can be kept hidden while being paid part of the assets they cause to be forfeited. The Patriot Act specifically mentions using Title 18USC asset forfeiture laws: those laws include a provision in Rep. Henry Hyde’s 2000 bill HR 1658—for “retroactive civil asset forfeiture” of “assets already subject to government forfeiture”, meaning "property already tainted by crime" provided “the property” was already part of or “later connected” to a criminal investigation in progress" when HR.1658 passed. That can apply to more than two hundred federal laws and violations.

Just recently Obama signed Executive Order EO 12425 that included authorizing INTERPOL to act within the United States without being subject to 4th Amendment Search and Seizure." Obama’s executive order will allow U.S. police to circumvent the Fourth Amendment by working with INTERPOL in criminal and Civil Asset Forfeiture investigations. After the Patriot Act passed, several European Countries entered into Asset Forfeiture Sharing Agreements with the U.S. It is problematic INTERPOL working with U.S. law enforcement and private government contractors will want access to telecom/NSA and other government wiretaps perhaps illegal, to secure evidence to arrest Americans and or civilly forfeit their homes, inheritances, intellectual property and businesses under Title 18USC and other laws. Thanks to Obama, U.S. Police can now use INTERPOL to circumvent the Fourth Amendment to share in assets seized from Americans.

Police And The Courts Hit Our Family Hard And Heavy For Over $ 85,000 Plus Attorney Fees Of Over $ 65,000 . The Tax Payer Also Lost Over $ 175,000 For An Illegal Activity . I Have An Unbeleveable Story That The Law Makers Can't Beleive .

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