Dispatches from the Creation Wars

More Forfeiture Insanity

Radley Balko has the story and it’s a stunning one. I’ll post the excerpt below the fold.

Luther Ricks and his wife worked most of their lives at a steel foundry in Ohio. Not trusting of banks, they say they’ve lived frugally, and managed to save more than $400,000 over the years, which they kept in a safe in their home.

Last summer, two burglars broke into Ricks’ home. He shot and killed one of them. Police determined he acted in self-defense, and cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing. But local police did find a small amount of marijuana in Ricks’ home, which Ricks says he uses to manage the pain of his arthritis and a hip replacement surgery. Ricks was never charged for the marijuana. But finding it in his home was enough for city police to confiscate Ricks and his wife’s life savings under drug war asset forfeiture laws. Oddly enough, the FBI then stepped in, and claimed the money for itself.

Consistent with asset forfeiture laws, the federal government now says Ricks has to prove he earned the money legitimately in order to get it back. Of course, he doesn’t have dated receipts going back thirty-plus years. And he can’t hire a lawyer–the government has of his money.

No matter how cynical I am, I simply can’t keep up with the reality of our totally out of control law enforcement apparatus. This is legalized theft, plain and simple. The government has stolen his money out of a safe in his house on false pretenses. The prosecutor, judge or law enforcement official who authorized it should be in prison for grand larceny. And rather than fix it, our legislators are busy passing resolutions honoring Christmas. Throw the bastards out, I say.