The government as thief

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How civil forfeiture is used by government agencies to steal cash and property from innocent Americans.

More here, including this juicy story:

To the casual observer it appears that Virginia is run by violent psychopaths. That’s the takeaway from the recent report of an anti-poker SWAT team raid in Fairfax County, in which eight assault rifle-sporting police officers moved against ten card-playing civilians. The police possibly seized more than $200,000 from the game, of which 40 percent they eventually kept.

There was no indication that any of the players was armed. As a matter of fact, it appears that a gambler is more likely to be shot without provocation by the Fairfax Police than the other way around. The heavy firepower at the Fairfax raid was apparently motivated by the fact that “at times, illegal weapons are present” at such poker games, and that “Asian gangs” have allegedly targeted such events in the past. This is, then, a novel approach to law enforcement: as a matter of policy, Fairfax police now attempt to rob and steal from people before street gangs get around to doing it.

As the article notes, gambling is not against the law in Virginia, merely regulated. It appears that this regulation was used as a very flimsy excuse by the Virginia state government to rob these citizens and pocket the cash.


One comment

  • Edward

    From the first article: “[government] has required financial institutions to report deposits of $10,000 or more to the Treasury Department, because such large sums of cash are obviously suspicious. You know what else is suspicious? Deposits of less than $10,000, because they suggest an attempt to evade the government’s reporting requirement, which has been a federal crime, known as ‘structuring,’ since 1986.”

    So if you are a successful small business with revenues of around $3 million per year, your daily bank deposit will be a little less than $10,000. Thus you are pretty much guaranteed to be suspect.

    Who was it that said that we unwittingly commit three felonies a day? Just by engaging in banking transactions, we commit one felony — well, the government can decide to interpret it that way.

    The danger of selective enforcement of laws is that we stop being a nation of laws and become a nation of men. In the former, we can be assured that breaking a law will result in prosecution; in the latter, if we know the right people (i.e. make the right bribes), then we won’t be prosecuted for breaking the law. The former is a nation of equality for all, the latter is a nation where some people are more equal.

    Civil forfeiture could be considered a form of bribery, as in “we won’t prosecute you for a crime that you didn’t commit, so long as we can keep this money/car/house/whatever.”

    What a nice place this country has turned into, where being innocent isn’t enough.

    The Constitution may not be perfect, but it is better than what we have now. The Fifth Amendment is very clear that civil forfeiture is illegal: “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Civil forfeiture bypasses due process. So if government isn’t following the Constitution, what is it following?

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