Dispatches from the Creation Wars

More Cash Seizure Madness

Balko caught this post on TwoPlusTwo, a forum for poker players, about DEA agents stealing money from a professional poker player. Here’s Balko’s description:

According to Peat, he and his girlfriend had originally planned to fly back to Las Vegas together after visiting her family. But after purchasing their tickets, Peat decided to fly to L.A. to play in a poker game. He bought a last minute, first-class ticket, and paid in cash. That apparently was enough to set off red flags.

Peat says he was accosted by several DEA agents, who asked him questions about who he was and where he was going. He told them he was a poker player, and had $15,000 in cash in his pocket. They first let him go, but then chased him down, and told him he’d need to come with them for questioning. Peat says the agents then confiscated all of his money, as well as his $50,000 Rolex watch. He says they gave him a receipt, and told him to expect more information in the mail.

In a separate post, Peat concedes he had a few marijuana possession charges, but the most recent was more than eight years ago. He wasn’t arrested, and the agents didn’t tell him why they were taking his money. The reason for seizing it seems to be little more than he was traveling with a large amount of cash.

Absolutely appalling and blatantly unconstitutional. Yes, there is a law that allows cash to be seized by the government if that cash was gained through illegal drug sales, but they didn’t charge him with anything, nor do they have any evidence to support such a charge. If they cannot arrest him, they certainly should not be allowed to arrest his money or his jewelry.

I worry about this because I often carry large amounts of cash for the same reason. You can’t write a check to get into a poker game. When I went to Vegas two weeks ago, I had about five thousand dollars in cash with me. They could have done the same to me without justification just as they did to him. The courts must stop this. Immediately.