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Felon Farmers? Law Criminalizes Legitimate Businesses
CBN ^ | September 03, 2012 | Paul Strand

Posted on 09/06/2012 6:05:00 AM PDT by CaptainKrunch

MIDDLETON, Md. -- With at least 4,500 federal laws existing today, some of the most unlikely people are finding themselves charged with crimes and breaking laws they didn't know existed.

Such is the case of two Maryland farm families who ran afoul of the "Bank Secrecy Act," which farmer Randy Sowers told CBN News he'd never heard of.

Sowers has been farming in the mid-region of Maryland for decades.

"I've been doing this for 31 years and I've put in most days 18 hours or more," he said.

Sowers decided to buck the trend of most farms these days and not work for a major agribusiness, but sell products from his South Mountain Creamery independently.

As products became more popular, the Sowers pulled in thousands of dollars in cash most weekends.

Then in February, the busy farm family discovered federal officials were targeting them with the Bank Secrecy Act, which originally ordered banks to report any cash deposits over $10,000.

The law was meant to nab some of the world's most nefarious characters.

"This law was designed to go after drug dealers, go after terrorists and gun-runners who would take proceeds from illegal sales and launder them through the banks," explained Paul Kamenar, a legal policy consultant who helped the Sowers with their case.

Depositing a Crime

To dodge the law, criminals started salting their ill-gotten cash around in various banks in amounts of less than $10,000. In turn, the feds made that a crime, too, called "structuring" deposits.

Unfortunately, many innocent people also deposit large amounts of completely legal cash in more than one account, like checking, savings, a college fund, or retirement account.

"It's quite natural for members of the public to say, 'Well, look, if I've got a lot of cash, I'll spread it around,'" Kamenar insisted. "But in fact, if those cash deposits add up to more than $10,000, you are inadvertently violating the Bank Secrecy Act."

That's what the Sowers had been doing. David Watt, Sowers' attorney, explained why his client began doing that.

"One day [Randy] goes to his bank and the teller says, 'Hey, listen, if you don't have more than $10,000 to deposit, we the bank don't have to file this report,'" Sowers' attorney David Watt said.

After Sowers made dozens of deposits under $10,000, federal agents suddenly showed up at the farm with chilling news.

"They told me, 'We seized your account' -- $70,000 they pretty much took out of there," Sowers recalled.

Keep reading...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption
KEYWORDS: bankaccountseizure; epaoutofcontrol; familyfarms; farmers; farms; under10000
 

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1 posted on 09/06/2012 6:05:03 AM PDT by CaptainKrunch
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To: CaptainKrunch
Color me just a little bit skeptical.
2 posted on 09/06/2012 6:12:45 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: CaptainKrunch
He tried to do it alone....

NOW put the hammer down on that miscreant unwilling to pay his fair share!

3 posted on 09/06/2012 6:19:14 AM PDT by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: CaptainKrunch

It is also against the law for a teller to say what he claims he was told. Our bank stresses that at all our BSA trainings. The teller can be assumed to be an accessory so I can’t help but question his story......


4 posted on 09/06/2012 6:20:43 AM PDT by PoplarBluffian
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To: Mr. Lucky
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_Secrecy_Act

Assets have been seized in the name of the so-called "War on Drugs" and "War on Terrorism." The assets are charged with crimes and seized, even if the person to whom they belong is not charged. This is a huge part of many police departments' and federal agencies' revenue streams.

5 posted on 09/06/2012 6:20:52 AM PDT by ronnyquest (I spent 20 years in the Army fighting the enemies of freedom only to see marxism elected at home.)
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To: Mr. Lucky
"Color me just a little bit skeptical."

No one has any reason to believe that farmer is doing anything illegal.  And that law is an absolute outrage.

6 posted on 09/06/2012 6:21:14 AM PDT by CaptainKrunch (Freedom does not promise safety and security, freedom only promises freedom.)
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To: CaptainKrunch

An evil, picayune law. The solution: don’t put your money in a bank. It’s not as if they are paying any interest these days.


7 posted on 09/06/2012 6:22:43 AM PDT by jboot (This isn't your father's America. Stay safe and keep your powder dry.)
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To: CaptainKrunch

Of course the law needs to be changed. This is ridiculous.

In the mean time, take some of that cash, buy a stout safe and have your own bank.

Pay cash for everything.


8 posted on 09/06/2012 6:22:53 AM PDT by upchuck ("Definition of 'racist:' someone that is winning an argument with a liberal." ~ Peter Brimelow)
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To: upchuck

“The law needs to be changed”.

Yes. Any day now I would expect the law to be changed so that you can not keep even moderate amounts of cash or gold coin in your home or in any way other than in a bank or investment house.


9 posted on 09/06/2012 6:34:10 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: CaptainKrunch
The law was meant to nab some of the world's most nefarious characters.

The world's most nefarious characters all know to keep any single bank deposit to $9999.99 or lower.


10 posted on 09/06/2012 6:34:10 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: CaptainKrunch

The farmer apparently generates $10,000 a day in currency receipts, doesn’t have an accountant, is guided in litigation by a “legal policy consultant” instead of a lawyer, and claims to have acted on the advice of a bank teller. While the law may be an outrage, so is this guy’s story.


11 posted on 09/06/2012 6:35:49 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Mr. Lucky

The story does not say $10,000 a day.

It says that he generates large amounts of cash on some week ends.

And I am positive no bank teller exists who would break the rules.

Just never.

Like no priest would ever mess with little boys.

Just never.


12 posted on 09/06/2012 6:40:02 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: Mr. Lucky

Don’t be. This is a really tiny example of a much, much greater problem.

For example, for many years, the RICO forfeiture laws were structured both to seize any asset they could get, no matter how tenuous the connection to drugs, by *arresting* the property, be it a boat, a car, or a home. And *property* does not have civil rights.

Importantly, they did not even has to arrest a person to do this, just find evidence of a drug crime, like ash from a marijuana cigarette, or a few marijuana seeds.

So it was the government’s until recovered by lawsuit by its lawful owner, in a superior court, which could cost $100,000, so if the seized item was worth less than that, it was not worth it to try.

Then, once seized, the federal police would give the local police a sizable cut of the proceeds, about 10%, no matter their involvement in the seizure. At its peak, $600m a year was being given as bribes to these local police for not interfering. Meaning $6b a year in asset seizures.

At a more personal level, as a rule of thumb if police stopped a person on the street, if they had no credit cards or other virtual money, and less than $50, they could be detained for vagrancy. But if they had *more* than $500, their money could be “arrested”, as possible proceeds from a drug sale.

Often the assumption was not drugs, but *something* illegitimate, even as petty as evading sales taxes, but it didn’t matter, the money would be taken and would be very hard to get back.

Eventually these seizures became so egregious and corrupt that the courts had to intervene. The government’s response was to create tremendous tightening of both national and international banking laws and regulations.

When the farmer mentioned in the article got in trouble for under $10k transactions, it was because for many years that was the accepted reporting limit by banks. But now that reporting limit is universal, that is, *all* banking transactions are now scrutinized by the federal government and computer algorithms check for transaction patterns that *theoretically* indicate that a person *might* be involved in some illegitimate activity.

And that’s all the government needs to seize your assets, that your software said you *might* be doing something illegal. And whether or not you actually have is beside the point.

“If you are not a criminal, they why are you being punished? Your punishment implies you are a criminal.”


13 posted on 09/06/2012 6:46:07 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: old curmudgeon

In my entire life, I haven’t generated over $10,000 in currency sales from farm produce, haven’t taken aocounting advice from a bank teller and haven’t taken legal advice from a “legal policy consultant”, and yet this guy claims to have done so all on the same day.


14 posted on 09/06/2012 6:51:00 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: old curmudgeon

Hopefully, God willing, we’ll soon be headed the other way.


15 posted on 09/06/2012 6:58:08 AM PDT by upchuck ("Definition of 'racist:' someone that is winning an argument with a liberal." ~ Peter Brimelow)
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To: Mr. Lucky

Perhaps a bit of history may clarify the central issue in this situation. Consider the difference between the Roman Catholic Church’s Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition.

Galilao wsas tried by the Roman Inquisition. He was not tortured, nor subjected to loss of all his assets.

Had the Spanish Inquisition tried him, be would have been tortured as were most victims. What is the core difference between the two Inquisitions?

Forfeiture! ! !

The Roman Inquisition was paid for by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Spanish Inquisition was paid for with forfeited assets/property of the accused. Odd thing, nearly all people accused by the Spanish Inquisition were found guilty.

Once guilt was established by torture, the assets were forfeit.

NOW - consider that in today’s America, ATF had a convention and ordered custom Leatherman tools in ATF colors and with Always Think Forfeiture emblazoned on the handle.

Still trust goobers in the gooberment?

The Founders didn’t, and I suggest we should not, either.


16 posted on 09/06/2012 6:58:16 AM PDT by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon freedom, it is necessary to examine principles."...the public interest)
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To: CaptainKrunch

To avoid paperwork, the farmer begins to make sure he never milks more than 100 cows in that barn.

“Then here comes the government and they seize all your cattle. And they say ‘You are guilty of structuring your milking operation in order to avoid filing this report. And not only that, but as a civil forfeiture, we’re going to keep half of your cattle,’” Watt continued.


Think about this folks. We are all guilty of something before we got out of bed this morning. They just havn’t decided what to charge you with yet.


17 posted on 09/06/2012 7:08:09 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( (Lord, save me from some conservatives, they don't understand history any better than liberals.))
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To: GladesGuru
The Spanish Inquisition was paid for with forfeited assets/property of the accused. Odd thing, nearly all people accused by the Spanish Inquisition were found guilty.

There's a great movie I saw recently on cable called "Goya's Ghost". It's about Goya's challenges with the Church during this period.

18 posted on 09/06/2012 7:10:29 AM PDT by Portcall24
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To: Mr. Lucky

From whom he takes advice is his option whether wise or not.

His choice of an advisor may or may not be equal to or better than some of the so called investment councilors.

And you can get a lawyer to take any side of any question from a parking ticket to murder.

As for how much cash you generate, we have no idea of your credentials. Your idea of farming might be your 1/4 acre garden behind the house.

But if you look at the buildings and the silos in the background of the fellow’s photo, you can see that the farm is a really big operation. Maybe it is not his farm, but we are led to believe it is.

Maybe you already know all of this, but this link is interesting.

http://www.ehow.com/about_6307489_comparison-between-trucks_-trains-barges.html

910 bushels is worth about $7,500 today and there are farmers that grow so much that they have a dry van in the field with their combines.

Farming today is big money. If it were not, John Deere would not be selling tractors and combines that cost $250,000 and much more each.

I don’t know what he is selling on weekends, but I used to travel that part of the world and on week ends the city folks flood those farm direct to purchaser places.

It is not a little thing.

Wait until the facts are known.


19 posted on 09/06/2012 7:12:59 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: CaptainKrunch

Obviously this guy must have had an idiot for a tax adviser, but if he reported the money as income and paid the IRS why should the government get its knickers in a wad? Isn’t the purpose of illegal money laundering to conceal income and especially its source? I doubt any criminals engaging in money laundering are paying taxes.


20 posted on 09/06/2012 7:26:22 AM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: CaptainKrunch

Well, i don,t know if the story is true or not but i do believe the part concerning at least 4500 laws, might be 45000 though.

And the laws are for the express purpose of robbing the people who do the work and earn the money.

They always use crime of some kind as a reason of getting money from non crime incidents and they know they can get away with it because all they have to do is holler crime and people are gullible enough to fall for it.

This is a government by the people and the people have chosen protection by the Government above every thing else, including God.

We are reaping what we have sowed.


21 posted on 09/06/2012 7:28:26 AM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: upchuck
Pay cash for everything.

And demand a discount, or you'll take your business elsewhere.

22 posted on 09/06/2012 7:38:59 AM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed &water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: Mr. Lucky

Why? Reads pretty realistically to me. The law they’re talking about is 100% real, and the article describes it accurately. Skeptical that the feds would take down and then seize money from someone only technically guilty of a crime they knew nothing about? Happens all the time. What’s to be skeptical about?


23 posted on 09/06/2012 7:43:24 AM PDT by piytar (The predator-class is furious that their prey are shooting back.)
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To: PeterPrinciple
We are all guilty of something before we got out of bed this morning. They just havn’t decided what to charge you with yet.

"Do you think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power the government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." - Ayn Rand

24 posted on 09/06/2012 7:45:08 AM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed &water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: old curmudgeon
I appreciate that farming is big business; I also appreciate that the owner of a business who insists upon dealing in currency and claims to take accounting advice from bank tellers is likely trying to avoid unrelated legal obligations such as income tax, child support, mortgage payments or the like.

To generate $10,000 in currency on a weekend, a farmer would have to collect $16.67 in bills and coins, each and every minute, for 10 hours, in addition to payments received via check or credit card.

25 posted on 09/06/2012 7:53:22 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

Don’t be. This is a really tiny example of a much, much greater problem.


You evidently see it the same way i do except i don,t know how to put it into words.

I can see that our founding fathers could see this kind of stuff happening but even they were not equipped to keep it from happening.

They figured people loved freedom enough to keep it, but they were wrong.


26 posted on 09/06/2012 8:01:23 AM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: JimRed

“Do you think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power the government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” - Ayn Rand


Right.


27 posted on 09/06/2012 8:05:27 AM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: Mr. Lucky

I can take product to 7 different farmer’s markets a week, in the towns around me without overlap; I have about 15 to choose from and that’s in rural Oregon. They don’t all occur on Saturday morning. That’s just me by myself, if I had family or employees and enough product, I could in fact sell at all of them. I actually only do Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

In the far more densely populated state of Maryland, he could easily be taking in that kind of cash.


28 posted on 09/06/2012 8:49:52 AM PDT by Valpal1
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To: Mr. Lucky

I appreciate that farming is big business; I also appreciate that the owner of a business who insists upon dealing in currency and claims to take accounting advice from bank tellers is likely trying to avoid unrelated legal obligations such as income tax, child support, mortgage payments or the like.


He has not been accused of any of the things you list.

O rmaybe I missed it.

Please post the excerpt that lists all of that.

He has simply been accused of deposition money in more than one place in amounts lesser than $10,000.

I am expecting to deposit a large sum shortly and it will be in several different accounts. The amounts will vary from one account to another but it could well be that several of them will be in the $9,000 range.

So what?

As for how much he can generate on a week end....you have no idea.

I have been in Lancaster County, PA, on nice summer weekends and seen literal traffic jams caused by people from the concrete jungles of DC, Baltimore, Philly and other near-by places, lined up to pay $10.00 a head to go through some Amish Farmers farm to see and pet his horses, cows, watch him make something in his harness shop or forge.

For to six people in a car adds up.

We have no idea what this guy was selling but you are saying that he can’t generate that money.

So therefore he is innocent and your’s and the fed’s condemnation of him is in complete error.


29 posted on 09/06/2012 8:55:06 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: old curmudgeon

Typos, typos typos.

Please excuse.


30 posted on 09/06/2012 8:58:28 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: Mr. Lucky

Why? Of what?


31 posted on 09/06/2012 9:04:21 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: Valpal1

I wonder if he was committing the evil crime of keeping partner owned milk cows so the partner owners can have unpasteurized milk.

Then the feds use all that other stuff to rub his nose in it.


32 posted on 09/06/2012 9:04:58 AM PDT by old curmudgeon
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To: PoplarBluffian
It is also against the law for a teller to say what he claims he was told. Our bank stresses that at all our BSA trainings. The teller can be assumed to be an accessory so I can’t help but question his story......

Unless the teller has a quiet arrangement with the feds where they look nicely upon him for tips leading to seizures.

33 posted on 09/06/2012 9:06:29 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (Charlie Daniels - Payback Time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWwTJj_nosI)
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To: old curmudgeon
I apparently made my point inartfully.

I'm not suggesting that the guy's earnings are illicit; merely that he's not quite as happless as he pretends.

This gentleman owns a dairy farm and is sophisticated enough not only to husband his herd, but to milk them, process, store, containerize and sell the product at retail in huge volumes; his Schedule F would be heavy enough to ballast a sailing vessel. My guess is that his claim never to have received competent accounting or legal advice wasn't candid, that's all.

34 posted on 09/06/2012 9:29:48 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Mr. Lucky
I'm not suggesting that the guy's earnings are illicit; merely that he's not quite as happless as he pretends.

So, has Jon Corzine been arrested yet? LOL!

The government is thugs.

35 posted on 09/06/2012 9:37:17 AM PDT by kiryandil (turning Americans into felons, one obnoxious drunk at a time (Zero Tolerance!!!))
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To: PoplarBluffian
The teller can be assumed to be an accessory so I can’t help but question his story......

Glad you're comfortable with the American Police State. I think the Founders would have had a different opinion, however....

36 posted on 09/06/2012 9:39:30 AM PDT by kiryandil (turning Americans into felons, one obnoxious drunk at a time (Zero Tolerance!!!))
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To: kiryandil

Oh, I’m not happy with the American Police State. I absolutely hate BSA, but it is a fact that tellers are told they can’t tell customers how to restructure their deposits without running the risk of being accused of being an accessory. Banks are also warned that they are liable if they make suspicious activity reports that are unfounded without having evidence to back up their suspicion. I, obviously, don’t know how the bank in the article handles their activities but I do know the guidelines they are to follow.

Again, I don’t like this law, never have liked it. I agree our Founders wouldn’t like it either..........


37 posted on 09/06/2012 10:00:27 AM PDT by PoplarBluffian
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To: GladesGuru
Perhaps a bit of history may clarify the central issue in this situation. Consider the difference between the Roman Catholic Church’s Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition.

Galilao wsas tried by the Roman Inquisition. He was not tortured, nor subjected to loss of all his assets.

Had the Spanish Inquisition tried him, be would have been tortured as were most victims. What is the core difference between the two Inquisitions?

Forfeiture! ! !

The Roman Inquisition was paid for by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Spanish Inquisition was paid for with forfeited assets/property of the accused. Odd thing, nearly all people accused by the Spanish Inquisition were found guilty.

Once guilt was established by torture, the assets were forfeit.

Well worth repeating. Asset forfeiture is one of the greatest evils of our government because it corrupts it at all levels, just like all the other fruits of the war on drugs.

38 posted on 09/06/2012 11:23:47 AM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: Mr. Lucky
He never claimed to be hapless or to not have competent legal or accounting advice.

He claims that the federal government is using the BSA to shakedown farmers via civil forfeiture. He's not the only farmer in that particular jurisdiction to be shaken down, he's just the one making a stink about it.

Sowers was originally going to get off with a slap on the wrist. But he talked to a Baltimore City Paper reporter about his case.

"After that, the U.S. attorney wasn't so accommodating to me anymore," Watt recalled. "He said, 'Well now that your client has talked to the press, I am going to have to move forward on this.'"

"So here we have a clear example not only of the government using its heavy hand going after honest, hard-working Americans. If you exercise your First Amendment right and complain about that, they're going to hammer you even more," Kamenar said.

Nation Under Arrest

Paul Rosenzweig, co-editor of a book about overcriminalization, One Nation Under Arrest, said he sees this sort of thing happen all the time to people who stand up to the government.

"They simply fail to bow and scrape in front of the government authorities in ways that make the government authorities say, 'Well, I'm going to take you down a peg,'" Rosenzweig said.

Kamenar added, "When there is a small businessman who dares assert his constitutional rights, there is this reaction by the bureaucrat to say 'I'll show you who's boss.'"

The Taylors decided it wouldn't be wise to speak to the press, including CBN News. But Sowers insists he won't be silenced.

39 posted on 09/06/2012 12:33:24 PM PDT by Valpal1
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To: CaptainKrunch

“Render onto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”


40 posted on 09/06/2012 2:06:51 PM PDT by Fpimentel
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To: CaptainKrunch

Throughout history when a citizen can not expect justice from their government they are reduced to extracting justice directly. All too often this does not stop at a broken arm or leg or two. This tends to cause the death of petty bureaucrats. Have our employees bothered to study history.

This is a clear case of theft by law.


41 posted on 09/06/2012 2:27:00 PM PDT by W. W. SMITH ((Yuri Bezmenov (KGB Defector) - "Kick The Communists Out of Your Govt. & Don't Accept Their Goodies.)
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To: Buckeye McFrog

One of the largest drug launderers in the world is a major donor to the dim party. Clinton stayed at the guy’s house when he came to town!

This mafia money laundering operation has been going on for over 20 years under both dim and pubbie administrations without an investigation.

If the feds were serious, I could point them in the right direction!


42 posted on 09/06/2012 4:40:30 PM PDT by darth
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To: Valpal1

OK, if he knew the accounting advice he claims to have received from the bank teller was no good (but he followed it anyway) and he knew the legal advice he claims to have received from the “legal policy consultant” was no good (but he followed it anyway), he’s in a bed of his own making.


43 posted on 09/07/2012 6:07:57 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Mr. Lucky

I can tell you have not read the article. The legal policy consultant and his lawyer are two different people. The legal policy consultant is working with the farmer to create a public backlash against the AG that is abusing the BSA.

One of the reasons this forfeiture scheme works is because these government pustules pick out victims that are easy to roll over by confiscating an amount of money that makes fighting it out in court a Pyrrhic victory. This AG is merely enriching his office at the expense of non-criminal citizens.

The farmer is not the problem here, it’s the BSA and the dirty AG that is abusing it.


44 posted on 09/07/2012 8:09:06 AM PDT by Valpal1
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To: Valpal1
Well obviously the "legal policy consultant" is not a lawyer. This guy chose to take advice in a federal lawsuit from a "legal policy consultant" instead of his lawyer and apparently chose to take accounting advice from a bank teller instead of his accountant.

Instead of acting upon incompetent advice concerning currency transactions, let's say the guy acted upon upon incompetent advice concerning federal income tax law. As stupid and arcane as the tax law might be, it would be unreasonable of him to believe he could foment a public backlash which would let him not pay a tax he would have owed had he followed competent advice.

45 posted on 09/07/2012 8:29:34 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Mr. Lucky

He DID not take advice from the consultant. He has a lawyer, a completely different person that was negotiating with the AG. The legal policy consultant is a third party whose only interest is publicizing the abuse of farmers by the federal government.

I would not be a bit surprised to discover that the bank teller got a reward for their “tip”.

But keep on blaming the farmer while monster government keeps getting bigger and more dangerous.


46 posted on 09/07/2012 8:45:51 AM PDT by Valpal1
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