Are you serious?
Back in September 2013, Tan Nguyen was driving 78 MPH in a 75 MPH zone. Nevada Deputy Sgt. Lee Dove pulled him over for driving those three miles over the speed limit. Dove asked for permission to search the car and Nguyen made the terrible mistake of thinking his complete innocence
would shield him from the law.
Deputy Dove found $50,000 in Nguyen's briefcase and confiscated it. Deputy Dove did not charge Nguyen with any crime. Nguyen asked Deputy Dove not to take his money, which he said was casino winnings. According to Nguyen's lawsuit, Deputy Dove "threatened to seize and tow his car unless he 'got in his car and drove off and forgot this ever happened.'"
The photo above was taken by at the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, put on their Facebook page and shows "Deputy" Lee posing with the $50,000. Nguyen was not cited for speeding. Let that sink in.
That case was settled
last week last March.
But in a settlement reached last week with Humboldt County, Nevada, Nguyen was fully reimbursed for all of the cash that was taken from him. He also received $10,000 to cover attorney’s fees. In addition, the settlement fully reimbursed $2,400 to Matt Lee, who, like Nguyen, was pulled over and had his cash confiscated by Dove on I-80. Lee slammed that seizure as “highway robbery.”
In a statement released last Friday, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office noted the two cases raised “procedural issues.” The stops were “legally made” and the cash “lawfully seized.”
Nguyen’s attorney disagrees. “If they had a defense, they wouldn’t have paid us,” said John Ohlson, a Reno lawyer who represented Nguyen. These cash seizures are a “hot-button topic in Humboldt County,” Ohlson added. “A lot of people don’t like it.”
The District Attorney in this case released a statement, attempting to deflect blame using the conservative's handbook:
The media's reporting on these cases has unfairly criticized the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office as the Sheriff's Office was acting in accordance with the law as they understood it and was not responsible for any procedural defects following the seizure of assets.
I wonder if taking photos with seized
money, a la fake Mike Brown gang member photos,
counts as "acting in accordance with the law as they understood it."
With very slow movement and big obstacles in the fight to curtail civil forfeiture laws here's hoping that there will be more people able to fight the law and win.
UPDATE: A reader points out that the settlement was made last March in 2014, not last week as I originally said.