A “Shift” in Asset Forfeiture

January 4, 2016

By: Bobby Casey, GWP Managing Director

We can’t say whether this is a net positive or negative in the world of Asset Forfeiture, but there has been a meaningful shift in this “industry”.

Asset ForfeitureThere seems to be a little strife amongst the thieves as to who can lay claim to the stolen booty. Get out your popcorn because you ultimately pay for this little performance.

Admittedly, I misunderstood the headline to mean that the DOJ is putting a moratorium on civil forfeiture. Bwahahahahahahaha… yeah right!  Needless to say at second glance I immediately saw the error in my ways. The DOJ put a moratorium on profit sharing the acquisitions from civil forfeiture. That is, the local municipalities will no longer get a cut of the take.

St. Louis, Missouri Police Chief Sam Dotson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Now we are disincentivized, but we will still go out and do our jobs, but now the federal government will keep 100 percent of the money.”

Are we really meant to get upset about this? Feel bad? Because I don’t. In fact, I feel good about it. When a road pirate is disincentivized to engage in piracy, I’m happy for all the private citizens who benefit from that inertia (i.e. all the people who won’t get robbed on the presumption of guilt). This is Global WEALTH PROTECTION after all.

Without providing an exact figure, Dotson told the Post-Dispatch his agency reaped hundreds of thousands dollars every year on the program, spending the proceeds on new vehicles, Tasers, and moving to a new headquarters. He also said losing that income could slow hiring of new officers, arguing the DOJ ‘just penalized us.’” (Source: RT)

Confirmation of winning! I guess poor Dotson will just have to try and make ends meet.

What really has me shaking my head in total disappointment is the response from not just the police brass, but from private citizens! Crying about this fictitious “war on police officers”. It’s not a war. It’s a very vocal criticism. You don’t need an MRAT or a BEARCAT. In fact, no local police should have weapons of war from the Pentagon! If you’re looking for who’s at war, look first for those dressed for one.

Ironically, Obama is getting blamed for this. But it’s not really his fault. By now you should trust me to blame him for even the slightest infraction, but in this case he’s no guiltier than anyone else in congress. Two budget bills passed with bipartisan support. First was the Bipartisan Budget Act 2015 which cut funding to the Asset Forfeiture Program by $746 million. The second was none other than Republican Paul Ryan’s Omnibus Bill, which took another bite out of the program’s funding amounting to $438 million. This combined $1.184 billion cut is untenable, or so says the DOJ, so effective immediately and indefinitely, all funds collected through civil forfeiture will be kept by the federal government.

The Philadelphia Police alone took in over $6 million per year. That is ONE police department.

But wait, there’s more! (Sources: Zerohedge.com; drugwarfacts.org)

  • Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually.
  • In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989.
  • Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year.
  • According to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.

We’ve written about this “industry” before and how it can easily come into play in an average person’s life. Heightened scrutiny of our bank transactions for example. A bank transaction over $5,000 in cash could lead to a bank filing a Suspicious Activity Report (for which there is a quota). They suspect your money of being party to a crime, and say good-bye to your money.

We’ve discussed this on a case by case basis in conjunction with eminent domain practices in “What Deference Does it Make?” and “Theft by Any Other Name is Still Theft”.

This is real. This is government. These people and their cases are real. Not the shady cartel swindlers you were expecting though, is it?

So while I don’t find any comfort in the idea of the feds keeping all this bounty for themselves, I am slightly pleased with the idea that local “authorities” no longer have a monetary incentive to continue the practice.

Does this mean that local municipalities and jurisdictions will try to keep these assets within their own ranks rather than yielding them over to the Feds? I doubt it. I imagine it would be treated like tax evasion by the DOJ. Nothing like watching various tiers of government quibble over money that isn’t even theirs to begin with. Does this indicate that perhaps it’s not even worth their while anymore to seize the assets in the first place? Does it mean that police departments won’t have the human or monetary resources to engage in this practice? Maybe. In fact, I really hope so.

Who can predict the spiteful actions or inaction of the state? I do, however, want to keep an extra close eye on asset forfeiture numbers in 2016. If the figure drops in any meaningful way, then we will know that this was largely a for-profit scheme by the local departments. If they continue as before, then we are no worse for wear, but the federal government just found a new source of revenue to pay for that Highway Bill (that happens to also restrict international travel).

Nothing can be done for those who’ve already been snagged in the asset forfeiture net, unfortunately. That is a legal battle in futility, and it’s deliberately rigged that way. To presume guilt – of an inanimate object no less – is not the behavior or a civil or free society. This is one of the more insidious programs of the state and its continuing war on property rights, and there are ways to protect your assets from these parasites. New Year, less fear. Let’s talk! Click here to schedule a consultation.

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