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Asset Forfeiture

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NEWS
June 24, 1997
WHEN ASSET FORFEITURE statutes were passed more than a decade ago, lawmakers never envisioned that federal, state and local law enforcement officers would seize property from people without ever charging them with crimes.In almost every state, citizens suspected but never convicted of crimes have lost their homes, cars, cash and other property to aggressive prosecutors who have exploited the existing statutes.Willie Jones, a Nashville landscaper, bought airplane tickets with cash, arousing the suspicions of federal drug agents.
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NEWS
By Leonard Pitts Jr and By Leonard Pitts Jr | October 12, 2014
Last week, a federal judge told us what we already knew. Namely, that police in Ferguson, Mo., violated the rights of protesters demonstrating against the shooting death of Michael Brown. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry struck down an ad hoc rule under which cops had said people could not stand still while peacefully protesting. Some were told they couldn't stop walking for more than five seconds; others that they had to walk faster. Again: These were not rioters. These were citizens seeking "peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," as the First Amendment gives them the right to do. So Perry's ruling is welcome, but not particularly surprising.
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NEWS
February 27, 2013
If the woman described in your asset forfeiture article did not know about the illegal drug business in her basement, prosecutors could not forfeit her house ("Seizing assets to take profits from crime," Feb. 17). The law is clear: "An innocent owner's interest in property shall not be forfeited under any civil forfeiture statute. " Federal courts supervise asset forfeiture cases. If someone makes an innocent owner claim, the court will evaluate the evidence to determine whether she knew about the criminal activity on her property and whether she tried to stop it. A property owner can tell her side of the story in a written affidavit or an oral deposition.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | June 17, 2013
After her then-husband was convicted on pornography charges involving the abuse of her two daughters at their home, an Anne Arundel County woman just wanted to move out. But her plans hit a snag when federal prosecutors tried to take her husband's share in the house. The Justice Department attempted to seize the property because it had been used in the commission of a crime, drawing protests from the woman and a rebuke from a federal judge. The government ultimately dropped the effort, but the case is another example of federal prosecutors' aggressive use of asset forfeiture laws.
NEWS
By Darren M. Allen and Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Amy L. Miller of the Sun Staff contributed to this article | October 7, 1995
For nearly two years, Carroll County's drug task force seized thousands of dollars worth of cars from suspected drug users and dealers and sold them back to their owners, even though only five cases ever led to felony convictions.The findings, contained in a county government audit released yesterday, illustrate the reliance of former State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman on property seizures to fund the now-defunct task force -- a practice that has been strongly criticized by civil libertarians, Carroll Circuit Court judges and the county's commissioners.
NEWS
By Darren M. Allen and Darren M. Allen,SUN STAFF | November 1, 1995
Sheriff John H. Brown's Drug Strike Force touted the seizure last weekend of a Nissan Pathfinder whose owner is accused of having less than 4 grams of crack cocaine.The problem, Carroll County prosecutors say, is that the car probably will never be forfeited and probably will be returned to its owner because the confiscation falls outside state and county guidelines for taking property from people suspected of involvement in the drug trade."At no time was [Carroll State's Attorney] Jerry Barnes consulted regarding any seizure, nor did he render an opinion on it," Deputy State's Attorney Marcie S. Wogan said yesterday.
NEWS
By Darren M. Allen and Amy L. Miller and Darren M. Allen and Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF | October 8, 1995
Suspects arrested on drug charges in Carroll County between September 1992 and June 1994 often had two ways out of their dilemma: go to court or buy back their cars from the authorities.According to a county government audit of the now-defunct Carroll County Narcotics Task Force, more than 80 percent of arrested drug suspects whose cars were seized by task force officers avoided serious consequences from the criminal justice system simply by buying back their cars.The task force, under the guidance of Thomas E. Hickman, then the state's attorney, had drawn criticism in Carroll and around Maryland for years.
NEWS
By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun | December 12, 2011
Rank-and-file police officers are accusing the small department in Westminster of misspending money seized from drug suspects by buying iPads and iPhones for top commanders. The Carroll County Fraternal Order of Police, through a Baltimore law firm it hired, also alleges in a news release that department leaders have pressured officers to work extra-duty shifts at Walmart, sometimes at the expense of patrolling city streets. "We're looking for answers," said Gary McLhinney, a labor negotiator for Schlachman, Belsky and Weiner, a firm that represents police labor unions around the state.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | June 17, 2013
After her then-husband was convicted on pornography charges involving the abuse of her two daughters at their home, an Anne Arundel County woman just wanted to move out. But her plans hit a snag when federal prosecutors tried to take her husband's share in the house. The Justice Department attempted to seize the property because it had been used in the commission of a crime, drawing protests from the woman and a rebuke from a federal judge. The government ultimately dropped the effort, but the case is another example of federal prosecutors' aggressive use of asset forfeiture laws.
NEWS
December 4, 1991
A taxicab was seized after the driver was charged Monday with selling marijuana out of his cab, county police said.The cab, which thedriver owned, was seized through state drug asset forfeiture laws, police said. The narcotics officers also found about 1 pound of marijuana at the suspect's Clarksville home.Arrested was Alexander White, 42, of the 13700 block Triadelphia Mill Road, who police said was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.White was arrested about 9 a.m. at the park-and-ride parking lot near the intersection of Route 32 and Snowden River Parkway.
NEWS
February 27, 2013
If the woman described in your asset forfeiture article did not know about the illegal drug business in her basement, prosecutors could not forfeit her house ("Seizing assets to take profits from crime," Feb. 17). The law is clear: "An innocent owner's interest in property shall not be forfeited under any civil forfeiture statute. " Federal courts supervise asset forfeiture cases. If someone makes an innocent owner claim, the court will evaluate the evidence to determine whether she knew about the criminal activity on her property and whether she tried to stop it. A property owner can tell her side of the story in a written affidavit or an oral deposition.
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | February 16, 2013
Gay Lynn Diffenderffer had no idea that her husband was growing marijuana at their Baltimore County home, her attorney says, until state police investigating his mysterious disappearance discovered about 100 plants in a locked basement. Two weeks later, investigators found Michael Diffenderffer, 52, dead in his car - an apparent suicide that meant he would never face the drug charges brought against him when the marijuana was found. But that didn't close the book on his 2011 case.
NEWS
By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun | December 12, 2011
Rank-and-file police officers are accusing the small department in Westminster of misspending money seized from drug suspects by buying iPads and iPhones for top commanders. The Carroll County Fraternal Order of Police, through a Baltimore law firm it hired, also alleges in a news release that department leaders have pressured officers to work extra-duty shifts at Walmart, sometimes at the expense of patrolling city streets. "We're looking for answers," said Gary McLhinney, a labor negotiator for Schlachman, Belsky and Weiner, a firm that represents police labor unions around the state.
NEWS
By Neal Thompson and Tom Pelton and Neal Thompson and Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF | December 23, 1997
An audit of Anne Arundel County's $500,000-a-year drug-asset forfeiture program has uncovered numerous bookkeeping errors, sloppy handling of cash and a vehicle sold improperly to the spouse of an office employee.The report by County Auditor Teresa Sutherland, which was obtained yesterday by The Sun, advised the county state's attorney's office to improve its accounting systems. The report was dated yesterday.County Executive John G. Gary's office forwarded the report to the state prosecutor's office, which is conducting a criminal investigation of the program.
NEWS
June 24, 1997
WHEN ASSET FORFEITURE statutes were passed more than a decade ago, lawmakers never envisioned that federal, state and local law enforcement officers would seize property from people without ever charging them with crimes.In almost every state, citizens suspected but never convicted of crimes have lost their homes, cars, cash and other property to aggressive prosecutors who have exploited the existing statutes.Willie Jones, a Nashville landscaper, bought airplane tickets with cash, arousing the suspicions of federal drug agents.
NEWS
By Darren M. Allen and Darren M. Allen,SUN STAFF | November 1, 1995
Sheriff John H. Brown's Drug Strike Force touted the seizure last weekend of a Nissan Pathfinder whose owner is accused of having less than 4 grams of crack cocaine.The problem, Carroll County prosecutors say, is that the car probably will never be forfeited and probably will be returned to its owner because the confiscation falls outside state and county guidelines for taking property from people suspected of involvement in the drug trade."At no time was [Carroll State's Attorney] Jerry Barnes consulted regarding any seizure, nor did he render an opinion on it," Deputy State's Attorney Marcie S. Wogan said yesterday.
NEWS
By Leonard Pitts Jr and By Leonard Pitts Jr | October 12, 2014
Last week, a federal judge told us what we already knew. Namely, that police in Ferguson, Mo., violated the rights of protesters demonstrating against the shooting death of Michael Brown. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry struck down an ad hoc rule under which cops had said people could not stand still while peacefully protesting. Some were told they couldn't stop walking for more than five seconds; others that they had to walk faster. Again: These were not rioters. These were citizens seeking "peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," as the First Amendment gives them the right to do. So Perry's ruling is welcome, but not particularly surprising.
NEWS
By Darren M. Allen and Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer | December 18, 1994
To the critics of Carroll's drug task force, the case of Matthew Rotolante's Nissan Pathfinder symbolized all that was wrong with the narcotics enforcement group.The $22,000 truck -- which the Gettysburg College student owned free and clear -- was seized last year by the task force after a traffic stop in which a trooper found a microscopic quantity of marijuana in Mr. Rotolante's socks.Among those who find such a case unacceptable: Jerry F. Barnes, the incoming Carroll state's attorney. "That isn't going to happen.
NEWS
By Darren M. Allen and Amy L. Miller and Darren M. Allen and Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF | October 8, 1995
Suspects arrested on drug charges in Carroll County between September 1992 and June 1994 often had two ways out of their dilemma: go to court or buy back their cars from the authorities.According to a county government audit of the now-defunct Carroll County Narcotics Task Force, more than 80 percent of arrested drug suspects whose cars were seized by task force officers avoided serious consequences from the criminal justice system simply by buying back their cars.The task force, under the guidance of Thomas E. Hickman, then the state's attorney, had drawn criticism in Carroll and around Maryland for years.
NEWS
By Darren M. Allen and Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Amy L. Miller of the Sun Staff contributed to this article | October 7, 1995
For nearly two years, Carroll County's drug task force seized thousands of dollars worth of cars from suspected drug users and dealers and sold them back to their owners, even though only five cases ever led to felony convictions.The findings, contained in a county government audit released yesterday, illustrate the reliance of former State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman on property seizures to fund the now-defunct task force -- a practice that has been strongly criticized by civil libertarians, Carroll Circuit Court judges and the county's commissioners.
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