Skip to comments.Man Loses $22,000 In New 'Policing For Profit' Case
Posted on 05/15/2012 8:01:29 AM PDT by the_devils_advocate_666
MONTEREY, Tenn. -- "If somebody told me this happened to them, I absolutely would not believe this could happen in America."
That was the reaction of a New Jersey man who found out just how risky it can be to carry cash through Tennessee.
For more than a year, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has been shining a light on a practice that some call "policing for profit."
In this latest case, a Monterey police officer took $22,000 off the driver -- even though he had committed no crime.
"You live in the United States, you think you have rights -- and apparently you don't," said George Reby.
As a professional insurance adjuster, Reby spends a lot of time traveling from state to state. But it was on a trip to a conference in Nashville last January that he got a real education in Tennessee justice.
"I never had any clue that they thought they could take my money legally," Reby added. "I didn't do anything wrong."
Reby was driving down Interstate 40, heading west through Putnam County, when he was stopped for speeding.
A Monterey police officer wanted to know if he was carrying any large amounts of cash.
"I said, 'Around $20,000,'" he recalled. "Then, at the point, he said, 'Do you mind if I search your vehicle?' I said, 'No, I don't mind.' I certainly didn't feel I was doing anything wrong. It was my money."
That's when Officer Larry Bates confiscated the cash based on his suspicion that it was drug money.
"Why didn't you arrest him?" we asked Bates.
"Because he hadn't committed a criminal law," the officer answered.
Bates said the amount of money and the way it was packed gave him reason to be suspicious.
"The safest place to put your money if it's legitimate is in a bank account," he explained. "He stated he had two. I would put it in a bank account. It draws interest and it's safer."
"But it's not illegal to carry cash," we noted.
"No, it's not illegal to carry cash," Bates said. "Again, it's what the cash is being used for to facilitate or what it is being utilized for."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, "But you had no proof that money was being used for drug trafficking, correct? No proof?"
"And he couldn't prove it was legitimate," Bates insisted.
Bates is part of a system that, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has discovered, gives Tennessee police agencies the incentive to take cash off of out-of-state drivers. If they don't come back to fight for their money, the agency gets to keep it all.
"This is a taking without due process," said Union City attorney John Miles.
A former Texas prosecutor and chairman of the Obion County Tea Party, Miles has seen similar cases in his area.
He said that, while police are required to get a judge to sign off on a seizure within five days, state law says that hearing "shall be ex parte" -- meaning only the officer's side can be heard.
That's why George Reby was never told that there was a hearing on his case.
"It wouldn't have mattered because the judge would have said, 'This says it shall be ex parte. Sit down and shut up. I'm not to hear from you -- by statute," Miles added.
George Reby said that he told Monterey officers that "I had active bids on EBay, that I was trying to buy a vehicle. They just didn't want to hear it."
In fact, Reby had proof on his computer.
But the Monterey officer drew up a damning affidavit, citing his own training that "common people do not carry this much U.S. currency." Read Officer Bates' affidavit
"On the street, a thousand-dollar bundle could approximately buy two ounces of cocaine," Bates told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
"Or the money could have been used to buy a car," we observed.
"It's possible," he admitted.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Bates if Reby had told him that he was trying to buy a car?
"He did," the officer acknowledged.
"But you did not include that in your report," we noted.
"If it's not in there, I didn't put it in there."
So why did he leave that out?
"I don't know," the officer said.
Bates also told the judge the money was hidden inside "a tool bag underneath trash to [deter] law enforcement from locating it."
"That's inaccurate," Reby said. "I pulled out the bag and gave it to him."
And even though there was no proof that Reby was involved in anything illegal, Bates' affidavit portrays him as a man with a criminal history that included an arrest for possession of cocaine.
That was 20-some years ago," the New Jersey man insisted.
"Were you convicted?" we wanted to know.
"No, I wasn't convicted," he answered.
But Officer Bates says that arrest -- which he acknowledged was old -- was still part of the calculation to take Reby's money.
"Am I going to use it? Yes, I'm going to use it because he's been charged with it in the past -- regardless of whether it's 10 or 15 years ago," he said.
Attorney John Miles said he's frustrated with attitudes toward Tennessee's civil forfeiture laws, which make such practices legal.
"We are entitled not to be deprived of our property without due process of law, both under the Tennessee Constitution and the federal Constitution -- and nobody cares," Miles said.
This year, state lawmakers debated a bill to create a special committee to investigate these "policing for profit" issues. That bill died in the last days of the legislative session.
After Reby filed an appeal, and after NewsChannel 5 began investigating, the state agreed to return his money -- if he'd sign a statement waiving his constitutional rights and promising not to sue.
They also made him come all the way from New Jersey, back to Monterey to pick up a check.
He got the check, but no apology.
"If they lied about everything in the report, why would they apologize?" Reby said.
And, with that, he was ready to put Tennessee in his rearview mirror.
"I really don't want to come back here," he said.
As for the appeals process, Reby was able to provide us and the state with letters from his employers, showing that he had a legitimate source of income.
It took him four months to get his money back, but it usually takes a lot longer for most people.
And that, Miles said, works to the benefit of the police.
He had two clients where police agreed to drop the cases in exchange for a cut of the money -- $1,000 in one case, $2,000 in another. In both cases, that was less than what they might have paid in attorney fees.
Miles called that "extortion."
From this point forward, I can only refer to America as the U.S.S.A.
Wonder how the 4th Amendent figures into this.
Sounds like some 3rd world country with that kind of risk driving through Tennessee.
Never admit to carrying large amounts of money.
Never allow them to search anything without a warrant.
Never consent to anything. Never admit to anything. Never say more than absolutely necessary.
They can shoot your dog, asset forfeiture your cash, and take your donuts, too!
It occurs to me that these thugs go shopping, take their families out to the movies, engage in standard recreational activities just like the rest of us.
So how hard would it be....
This used to go on along the I-10 corridor through west Louisiana. Except then they also took your vehicle. The cops targeted a lot of folks coming in or going east out of Houston.
Old, old news. It’s “asset forfeiture,” otherwise known as law enforcement retirement planning. A gift of the crackdown on organized crime and the Drug War, which, like every other government program, will be used for any and everything once it’s there. SCOTUS has backed it up, because basically anything that makes cops’ jobs easier and more lucrative is a-okay, unless it’s politically incorrect.
“’Do you mind if I search your vehicle?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t mind.’ I certainly didn’t feel I was doing anything wrong”
Don’t cops love the credulous and gullible. Why consent to searches? Does this guy enjoy wasting his own time? I don’t even talk to cops, let alone consent to searches. “Go suck a lemon, Barney Fife,” I say inside my head.
“Because he hadn’t committed a criminal law”
No one commits laws, Aristotle. This is what you get when you recruit cadets from community college.
This has been going on for a long time on our highways. At least 20 years. In airports as well. Don’t take a lot of cash to the airport with you, unless you also have documentation for it. They will seize it first, then make you prove it’s yours legitimately, to get it back.
By then, you may have spent more time and money than it’s worth to you.
That cop should be in ass-banging prison.
Very smart advice. They are not to be trusted. When seconds count, they are only minutes away.
Unfortunately all perfectly legal according to the courts, you can thank the WOD. Just one more case of Government knows what is best for the peons.
“Wonder how the 4th Amendent figures into this.”
Not at all, since the boob was boobish enoguh to consent to the search. Maybe, somehow, he could show that the cop had no probable cause to pull him over, which could negate the search, but judges just take the cop’s word for it.
What’s really at issue is the 5th amendment, and its protection of property with due process, and also the presumption of innocence.
So how hard would it be....
The same thought can be applied to the judges and politicians who enable the thugs in blue.
They have the "right" to detain you until they can get a drug sniffing dog on the scene, if you have large amounts of big bills, they do have cocaine residue on them.
I've seen studies where nearly 100% of hundred dollar bills in circulation have cocaine residue on them.
Damn'd if you do and damn'd if you don't.
And, there you have it.
And here I quit carrying substantial amounts of cash because the bad guys might steal it.
It just never expected them to be wearing blue.
Well, you're a little late, Laz, I been aware of this for more than a decade, now.
Hello? Alarm bells.
The answer is "No".
'Do you mind if I search your vehicle?'
The answer "Yes I mind. You may NOT search my vehicle."
Believe it or not this isn't that new of a situation.
Years ago (mid 90s) The wife and I booked a flight to Vegas on a special flight where you had to stay at a certain Casino and such.
We got to the airport did all the things you had to do (luggage and such but pre 9-11) I was at the counter showing them my ticket which was being kept in an envelope with large sum of cash. The girl at the counter finished with me and immediately picked up the phone. I headed back to my seat to wait for the flight to be called. I barely got sit down and two LEO types showed me their badges and said I needed to follow them.
They took me to a room and started asking for I.D. and what my job was and finally why I had so much cash on me. I answered all the questions and explained I was heading to Vegas. They told me no one heads to Vegas with cash and if I didn't have a better explanation I was going to be detained until I told the truth.
I told them fine but they were going to need to detain every single person on my flight because we all had a wad of cash like mine. See the deal was on this junket you had to stay at a certain Casino AND you had to show you carried x number of dollars in cash when you boarded the plane or it cost you full price for the trip rather the heavily reduced price they were offering for flight and room and meals.
They didn't believe me at first but I told 'em that if they did end up detaining me I am sure my lawyer would delight in taking everyone to court and have them explain why I was detained.
After they checked it out I was handed back my papers (I refused to turn over the money) with a curt apology and sent on my way.
From that day on if I carry large sums of cash I NEVER REVEAL SUCH TO ANYONE.
“They have the ‘right’ to detain you until they can get a drug sniffing dog on the scene”
Not the right, exactly, but the power to detain you so long as the “reasonable suspicion” standard is met. I don’t know about the dogs, persay, but I could easily believe the courts have ruled that since smells float freely around in the air you do not have an expectation of privacy over them. A dog’s nose is obviously a very sophisticated tool and completely outside of human experience, but whatever. The day cops can use x-ray vision goggles to look through your house—which basically they can with infrared and other cameras—is the day courts will allow that, too. I’ll assume the reason they rely on dogs as they do is that it enables them to circumvent the petty need for warrants.
Even so, it shouldn’t matter. Firstly because when cops ask you if you consent to a search they’re casually fishing. it doesn’t mean they want to hang around until a dog gets there, let alone fill out paper work or possibly appear before a judge to explain themselves. They’ll likely move on in the face of stonewalling, unless you piss them off, they’re having a bad day, or they don’t like the clothes you’re wearing, etc.
Still, it shouldn’t matter. Money is not drugs, no matter how much it smells of drugs. Property should not be taken without due process, and assuming objects are guilty until proven innocent is not due process. If you want to understand why, check out Bennis v. Michigan, one of the worst SCOTUS decisions ever. Not that it’ll tell you, since the majority’s reasoning amounts to: because we say so.
“The answer ‘Yes I mind. You may NOT search my vehicle.’”
I wouldn’t say that to a cop who later said I didn’t commit a law. He might get confused and hit me in the face with his baton just to be sure.
Try drawing $11K in cash out of your bank account, or putting that much cash in one. You will have to fill out federal forms.
Then, at the point, he said, ‘Do you mind if I search your vehicle?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t mind.’
Saw right away where this went sideways.
NEVER, let me repeat that, NEVER, consent to a search of your CAR, your HOME. NEVER EVER........
When they say we can get a warrant, you say thank you, I appreciate that..
It got my blood boiling back when I first read about "asset seizure" in the late 1980s. That's how long this crap has been going on. And time and time again, the courts have sided with law enforcement. Two choices: Either elect officials who pledge put a stop to this or simply don't carry large amounts of cash on your person these days. It's been going on for a long time and all over the country. people should be wise to this by now.
If you say no, in most cases you will be detained until they get a warrant,( which can take many hours) or they will arrest you for some bogus reason and then have the right to search your car.
Yeah...I saw that....typo? I hope that wasn’t a direct quote. But it seems more than likely it was.
And then they forcibly search you anyway and confiscate it in retaliation for the lie.
No matter what you do, you’re going to kiss it goodbye more than likely, so the real answer is don’t get CAUGHT!
Where are the FREE boot lickers who tell us we need to understand cops problems?
I’ve read that the best answer is “Why are you asking me that question?”
Used to be you considered cops your friends...
It's a small price to pay to make sure nobody engages recreations of which we disapprove. </drugwarrior>
And he wouldn’t have got his cash back then.
They would have searched his car either way.
When they found the cash and he lied about it he would have never been able to recover it.
“If you say no, in most cases you will be detained until they get a warrant”
I wouldn’t say most cases. Cops, though capricious, generally speaking are also lazy and uninterested in using their full powers in every possible case. The point of asking for consent is to see if they can catch some easy prey. The more difficult you make it for them, the less interested they’ll be. Unless you piss them off, which is exceedingly easy to do.
So maybe they’ll detain you, and maybe they won’t. However, I don’t see non-consent to search as making it more likely.
“’A Monterey police officer wanted to know if he was carrying any large amounts of cash’
Hello? Alarm bells.
The answer is ‘No’.”
No, the answer is silence. Cops can and will use everything you say against you. Even if you only tell the truth, and especially if you lie. Don’t give ‘em nothin’.
The guy in the article was from out of state though. That is what I meant, if you weren’t local.
I don’t disagree with anything you stated, I know the way things should be but deal with what is.
About 5 or 6 years ago, I was traveling and crossed a state line into Oklahoma and was immediately pulled over by a cop, for not signaling when I merged, he was right, I didn’t signal. He asked for my drivers license, registration and proof of insurance.
I readily found the first two but could not find the insurance card in the glove boxes, he went back to his car while I continued to look. He was on the way back when I popped the trunk lid from inside the car to look there, he casually closed the trunk as he came back by it and said to me, “Never mind that card, I know you have insurance”, handed me my stuff back and wished me a good day.
I asked him how he knew I had insurance. He said, “60 years old, new car, you’ve got insurance”.
On the other hand, when my two sons were 16 and 17 years old they were stopped and had their vehicles searched average a couple times a week. I went to the police chief in our small city (population about 35,000) He said that was about the same number of times they stopped his son too.
Police have a lot of discretion and I really don’t have a problem with “profiling” for druggies and terrorists.
By the way, my youngest son is now a policeman in the same city. He told me that he once pulled a kid over for speeding and asked him for consent to search him, the kid says sure, so the first thing my son did was pull his sock type cap off and out fell a baggie of grass.
Here comes the kicker. The kid with the pot had two options, accept an “ordinance violation” fine $250 and it would not appear on his record or a ticket and go to court and pay a $75 fine and it would go on his record.
The kid accepted the ordinance violation and the whole $250 goes to the city, no sharing with the county. It’s a rotten system and my son agrees but as he points out to me, he doesn’t make the rules, he also said the kid was noticeably high and driving erratically or he wouldn’t have given him any kind of ticket or asked to search him to begin with.
He also polled his fellow officers about citizen concealed carry (this is Illinois) and all 45 - 50 of them were for it, no exceptions. It remains that Illinois is the only state to have no carry for ordinary law abiding citizens.
Are you a Free Mason?
“The kid with the pot had two options, accept an ‘ordinance violation’ fine $250 and it would not appear on his record or a ticket and go to court and pay a $75 fine and it would go on his record.”
That’s called extortion.
You'll find more supporters of this kind of 'legal' theft here than you'd think.
His first mistake was answering the thug's question about the cash. Is second was agreeing to a search.
Rule number one: Don't answer questions other than your name and address. Rule number two: If they want to search, they need a warrant.
“Miles called that “extortion.”
No, that is way too fancy a word.
It’s just theft.
Interesting that they have a law like this that discriminates against out of state people, much to their disadvantage. Is that legit?
You should really not be able to seize anyone’s property under suspicion of criminal activity without actually charging them with a crime.
I mean, is that constitutional?
Hello? Alarm bells.
The answer is "No".
Actually, the answer is "Why do you ask, officer?" If you say "no" and they come up with some pretext to search, and find it, you are on record as having lied to them about it.
'Do you mind if I search your vehicle?'
The answer "Yes I mind. You may NOT search my vehicle."
Yup. Not without a warrant.
Shout that one from the rooftops, Brother!
Do we get to play “Robin Hood” when they play “Sheriff of Nottingham”?