Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? The government bullies are playing judge, jury and executioner when they take assets in civil forfeiture. Policing for profit…
Mark Brewer is a decorated Air Force veteran who fought in the global war on terror. But last month, he became a casualty in the drug war.
In late March, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government could take more than $60,000 of Brewer’s cash with civil forfeiture, even though he was never charged with a crime. The decision lets many Midwestern states continue to take property from people who have done nothing wrong.
A former military police officer and weapons specialist, Brewer earned several medals during his service in the Air Force, before he was medically discharged in 2008. Brewer said he developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after a deployment in Afghanistan.
In November 2011, Brewer was driving on Interstate 80 in Nebraska, when Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Wintle pulled Brewer over for crossing traffic lanes without signaling. During the stop, Wintle performed a criminal background check, which “revealed no major violations.”
After gaining Brewer’s consent, Wintle walked around the car with a canine unit; the dog alerted to the trunk. When he searched the trunk, Wintle found two backpacks that had a “strong odor of raw marijuana” and $63,530 in cash.
Brewer said he was travelling to Los Angles to visit his uncle and planned to use the money as a down payment for a house. According to Brewer, he had been saving that cash during his military service and from disability payments. Wintle did not believe his story, so Brewer’s cash was seized and his car was towed. At the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, a later search “located disability documents, old paystubs and tax returns in the vehicle, along with two articles entitled ‘How to Make Wicked Hash’ and ‘How to Make Weed Oil Without Blowing Yourself Up.’”
But deputies never found any drugs in the car. Nor did the government ever charge Brewer with a crime. Deputy Wintle didn’t even issue Brewer a traffic citation—the basis for the stop.
Read more: Forbes