ONTD Political

Way to serve and protect, guys. >:(

12:39 pm - 12/09/2010
Despite court order, Aurora refuses to return seized cash
December 9, 2010 8:24 AM | 6 Comments

Aurora is trying to keep a little more than $190,000 it seized from two brothers after one of them was pulled over in a traffic stop that didn't even result in a traffic ticket.

Officials have refused to hand back the money even though a judge has sided with the brothers. The matter is due back in court today.

Jesus Martinez, 27, was carrying $190,040 when his pickup truck was stopped by an Aurora police officer about 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18 near Indian Trail and Timberlake roads.

The police officer confiscated the cash, and the city has informed Martinez and his brother, Jose, 34, that Aurora will seek to keep it through civil forfeiture, a procedure that allows police agencies to seize property where the legal standard is lower than proof needed in a criminal forfeiture.

The brothers are home remodelers. Neither has been charged with a crime in this case, and neither has a criminal record, according to Kane County court records.

"I've never seen anything like this in 30 years of practice," said Aurora attorney Patrick Kinnally, who is representing the brothers.

A month after the stop, Kinnally filed a complaint arguing that Aurora had no right to keep the money. Eleven days after that, Kinnally and lawyers representing Aurora appeared before Kane County Circuit Judge Michael Colwell.

"Their lawyers basically said the city was going to file for forfeiture," Kinnally said. "The judge asked on what basis. The lawyer said, 'We don't know,' and the judge said: 'This is America. Give it back.'"

The judge ordered the city to return the $190,040, along with a month's interest and costs. But Kinnally said that when he brought the order to Aurora, the city refused to turn over the cash, saying it planned to appeal the judge's order.

Aurora argued that the judge had overstepped his authority, but the 2nd District Appellate Court in Elgin rejected the appeal on Monday on technical grounds.

Aurora's legal department has not responded to requests for information. And it now appears that the city no longer has the cash.

Jesus Martinez received a certified letter last weekend from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Dated Dec. 2, the letter states the Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement seized the money from Aurora, and that the cash is subject to forfeiture under U.S. codes dealing with drug transactions.

Geneva attorney Kathleen Colton, who initially was approached by the Martinez family, said the brothers are "absolutely not involved in drugs or drug dealing."

Colton did defend another Martinez brother and a cousin on 2002 drug charges. The men were convicted, but an appeals court later overturned the convictions. The charges against them were dropped, though both men were deported because they were not in the U.S. legally.

According to the complaint filed by their lawyer, Jesus Martinez and his passenger cooperated with the Aurora officer who stopped them. Martinez consented to be personally searched, and he allowed police to search his pickup. A canine unit was called in to assist.

The officer found the sack of cash and asked Martinez about it; he said it was the family's savings. Colton said Jesus Martinez had just picked up cash his brother had collected from other family members and was on his way to his father's to give him the money so his father could pay off his mortgage and retire to Mexico.

arrien 9th-Dec-2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
that's awesome. Getting robbed by police officers. What state is this in? Did I miss it?
ericcoleman 9th-Dec-2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Illinois, it's in the source material
c_yo_yus 9th-Dec-2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
What the... seriously? Give them their fucking money back you dicks.
miss_nyxie 9th-Dec-2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
Um, what the hell gives them the right to keep this family's money?
arisma 9th-Dec-2010 08:41 pm (UTC)
At first I was like wow how can they even attempt to pull this shit? And then I read the guys name.
roseofjuly 9th-Dec-2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
Pretty much my reaction
jeweledvixen 9th-Dec-2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Yep, my reaction exactly! It all made sense at that point. >:(
chaya 9th-Dec-2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
Um, fuck everyone.
roseofjuly 9th-Dec-2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
Not under the new laws. The burden of proof lies with the government, not with the defendant. Even under the old laws, though, they had to have probable cause and unless they found a truckload of cocaine associated with them or something, I'm not seeing any. "You are brown and have a lot of money" is not probable cause for the money not belonging to them.
hotcoffeems 9th-Dec-2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
But...they're brown! There's no way they actually saved up all that money through honest work! They're not just brown, they're...Spanish-surnamed! You know, like drug dealers!

Of course they're not getting the money back! It HAS to be ill-gotten gains! Just because the law hasn't been able to *prove* it is...yet, and these guys can "prove" they aren't drug dealers...just let the cops hang onto it a little longer, so they CAN prove this is drug money and therefore shouldn't belong to these brown people!

Besides, everyone knows respectable white people on the dicty side don't have money in cash. They have investments and credit cards, duh.

(Ohh, I just strained a sarcasm muscle.)
cymbal_monkey 9th-Dec-2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
I love how minorities get stopped for a traffic stop that doesn't even result in an offense, but just because they have $100k on them and are minorities, the officers search their car and bring in a K-9 unit. Seriously? What year is this?

Good on the brothers for consenting and cooperating though. They haven't done anything wrong and have a legitimate believable excuse for having that much money on them. Just because some of their family is immigrants doesn't mean shit. They're Americans. They should be treated as such.
juliet316 9th-Dec-2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
Way to go Officers. /sarcasm.

Fuck them. Seriously fuck them.
imnotbob 9th-Dec-2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
But the good news is, if they ever get it back they wont have to pay as high taxes on it.
cindel 9th-Dec-2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
The city doesn't have the cash anymore? ugh
roseofjuly 9th-Dec-2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
Why am I not surprised that this is a Jesus Martinez and not a John Martin? How are the cops just going to keep your money when they don't even know where you got it from or how you got it? "Oh we think you were drug dealing, so we're just going to keep this even though we can't prove it?"

"On what grounds?"
"We don't know."

WTF is this bullshit?! Seriously? We don't know but we just want it? This is American indeed.

Jesus fuck I guess if you're brown in America the cops can just rob you and spend your money with no repercussions.

Apparently this shit ain't new:

Tenaha has the dubious distinction of allegedly utilizing a state forfeiture regulation to seize property from unsuspecting motorists to raise revenue for the local police....Law enforcement authorities in Tenaha seized property from at least 150 motorists between 2006 and 2008, totaling more than $3 million USD.[3] In most of the cases where the seizures were improper, the victims were African-American or Latino.[3][6]
The allegations are that the town has used its proceeds to build a new police station, reward high revenue generating officers personally[3], and buy a second police car.[7]

hourglasscreate 9th-Dec-2010 09:39 pm (UTC)
I wish this were shocking.
ididthatonce 9th-Dec-2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
Oh fer chrissakes, don't ruin the name Aurora for me! It's my hypothetical daughter's name.

/thrilling tale, chap
qable 9th-Dec-2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
So the cops take the money without any grounds or reason, get sued for it, then coincidentally lose/spend it? Yeah, so not on.
kiri_l 10th-Dec-2010 04:11 am (UTC)
yes.. I see not much has changed in Aurora. *sighs*
theartema 9th-Dec-2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
castalianspring 9th-Dec-2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
Obviously the solution is to fire those "officials" and use their salaries pay the brothers back. What scumbags.
holdyourdevil 9th-Dec-2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
Or arrest them for theft.
castalianspring 9th-Dec-2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
That, too. I mean, a judge told them to give it back! How is that not happening? Ugh, cops being above the law just...*rages*
kiri_l 10th-Dec-2010 04:12 am (UTC)
lovely idea. It'll never work there.
raggedyanndy 10th-Dec-2010 12:51 am (UTC)
homasse 10th-Dec-2010 04:03 am (UTC)
I hope they have to pay it back, and with interest, just like the judge ordered.

mandragora1 10th-Dec-2010 06:19 am (UTC)
Sounds like a standard case of cash forfeiture to me. In the UK if you're carrying more than £1,000 cash on you and are stopped by the police (for good reason, including suspected traffic offences) and cannot account for the source of the cash then it can be forfeited. The burden of proof is the civil standard.

The very fact of carrying that much cash is suspicious and the defence that it's the family life savings is one that routinely gets used by money launderers and drug dealers. Couple that with previous convictions by other family members for drug dealing (and we don't know why the convictions were overturned - could be for a defect in the process rather than the quality of the evidence) and I'd be more surprised if the police didn't bring a claim for cash forfeiture than they fact that they did. Again, whole families being involved in drugs, money laundering and crime is routine, happens a lot.

Of course, the police have to prove their case and if the brothers can adduce sufficient proof that the money is legitimate then the money won't be forfeited. But there's nothing new or surprising about these types of cash forfeiture claims - I've acted for defendants to cash forfeiture proceedings on several occasions.
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