Judge Orders Cop To Return Seized $167,000 Taken From Man For “Driving Too Slow”
You know there is a problem when a police officer can literally steal thousands of dollars from you for no reason other than because you were “driving too slow.”
This week, a federal judge agreed that this confiscation of personal funds was absolutely insane and illegal. That judge ordered the U.S. government to return $167,000 that was stolen by a Nevada police officer. The judge described the law enforcement and state government as having a clear “lack of candor” in this case.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal
reported that a Nevada state trooper stopped Straughn Gorman in his motor home on Interstate 80 back in January 2013. The reason? The officer alleged that the massive motor home was “driving too slow.”
The officer demanded to search the motor home. Gorman refused to consent to a search. So the trooper actually let him go… But it was all a trick.
The trooper radioed ahead to an Elko County sheriff’s deputy. That deputy pulled the motor home over without any probable cause whatsoever. At the request of the trooper, the deputy searched the motor home with a drug-sniffing dog.
The deputy said the dog turned up a “hit”. There was something “suspicious in the motor home.
But that “something suspicious” wasn’t drugs. It wasn’t anything illegal at all. It was just money.
The driver didn’t trust banks. Whether you view that as normal, eccentric or even a bit “crazy” is irrelevant. The $167,000 hidden in the vehicle was obtained entirely legally.
But none of that mattered to the cops. They confiscated – they stole
– the money, turning it over to the federal “authorities” for civil forfeiture proceedings, even though Gorman was never charged with a crime.
The State claimed that Gorman might have been intending to use the money to purchase marijuana.
Gorman says nothing of the sort was going on. He wasn’t buying marijuana. He wasn’t buying anything. He just kept his savings in cash and kept it on him. He was actually on his way to visit his girlfriend in Sacramento.
Watch the local report below…
Federal judge orders return of $167,000 seized during traffic stop
Senior U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks ruled that the U.S. Attorneys Office in Reno was actually concealing information about the illegal nature of both the initial and subsequent traffic stops.
“No matter how this can be viewed, the two stops were for minor traffic violations and they both were extended beyond the legitimate purposes for such traffic stops,” Hicks explained in his ruling.
The fact that the second stop would not have occurred if not for the first violated Gorman’s Fourth Amendment rights.
The judge ruled that the trooper and deputies did not have “independent reasonable suspicion” to conduct the second traffic stop. Both cops broke the law.
“This district has recently emphasized the importance of candor to the court at all stages of investigation,” the judge explained.
Vincent Savarese, Gorman’s lawyer, said that it is “dismay[ing] that it required so much effort and litigation to bring the truthful facts to light that allowed Judge Hicks to make an informed decision.”
(Article by M. David and Jackson Marciana