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ALLEGED “HORSE HELD FOR RANSOM” BUSTED IN LOUISIANA

Posted by on Apr 5, 2019 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE ABUSE, HORSE NEWS, HORSE ORGANIZATIONS, INDUSTRY NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

ALLEGED “HORSES HELD FOR RANSOM” BUSTED IN LOUISIANA

“KILLER BUYERS” “ASSOCIATES & PARTNERS IN QUESTIONABLE RESCUES

Reprint of Article by Merritt Clifton
March 29, 2019

FORT POLK,  Louisiana––Thompson Horse Lot owner Gary Thompson,  64,  of Pitkin,  Louisiana,  who held a controversial contract to remove an estimated 700 to 750 wild horses from the 198,000-acre Fort Polk military installation,  is facing 18 counts of cruelty to animals for alleged severe neglect of horses.

On March 20, 2019, Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft announced that Thompson had been arrested,  a week after a joint investigation by the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana Livestock Brand Commission brought the impoundment of 18 of the 40 horses found at Thompson Horse Lot when the investigators executed a search warrant.

Another 22 horses were left at Thompson Horse Lot following a veterinary inspection,  reported Patrick Deaville of KPLC-7 News.

“Brand Commission investigating”

“The Brand Commission is investigating the dates and locations of the purchase of the animals,”  Deaville said at the time.

“Bond was set at $18,000,”  Craft said after Thompson’s arrest.  “Thompson posted bond and was released.”

Elaborated the Paulick Report,  an online periodical chiefly serving the horse racing industry,  “The investigation was launched, according to law enforcement,  after numerous complaints of animal cruelty [were made] against Thompson Horse Lot, long known for its Facebook-based operation offering followers an opportunity to purchase horses or ‘bail’ animals the lot claimed were at risk for being sent to slaughter.”

 

Fort Polk & Peason Ridge:

Thompson Horse Lot itself is believed by advocates for the Fort Polk wild horses to be a major conduit of wild horses to slaughter.

The Thompson Horse Lot raid and subsequent arrest of Gary Thompson came about two and a half months after hunters discovered the remains of five wild horses who had been massacred by persons unknown,  for reasons unknown,  on the Peason Ridge Military Training Area,  a tract of land near Fort Polk from which wild horses have also been removed in recent years,  ostensibly for adoption,  but have allegedly been sold to slaughter instead.

 

Texas State University contract:

Gary Thompson,  his son Jacob Thompson,  and other members of the Thompson family became involved in the Fort Polk/Peason Ridge wild horse issue after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in September 2017 awarded contracts cumulatively worth $1.75 million to the Texas State University Integrated Natural & Cultural Resources Team,  headquartered at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches,  Texas,  about two and a half hours’ drive to the northwest.

The funding was chiefly to “conduct archaeological surveys and support the management of cultural resources at U.S. Air Force bases and training facilities in eight states,”  according a Stephen F. Austin University media release.

$80,850 of the sum,  however,  was allocated to removing the Fort Polk and Peason Ridge wild horses from the military property.

 

Jacob Thompson Cattle LLC:

Wrote Lake Charles American Press reporter Pamela Sleezer,  “Texas State University sought bids from local contractors surrounding Fort Polk,  who would perform the hands-on task of rounding up the horses,  but according to sources,  the only bid” came from Jacob Thompson Cattle LLC,  which operates the Thompson Horse Lot.

The Thompson Horse Lot is located about 15 miles from the Fort Polk main gate.

Jacob Thompson and other members of the Thompson family had been almost continuously in trouble since 2005 for alleged offenses involving livestock transactions occurring in Louisiana, Texas,  Oklahoma,  and Mississippi.

 

Racketeering:

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi,  for example,  in April 2014 ordered Jacob Thompson and three other members of the Thompson family to pay $245,404 to the Southeast Mississippi Livestock Association and the Livestock Producers Association for alleged violations of the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act and the Packers & Stockyards Act.

Pleading guilty in April 2016 to first degree felony theft of livestock and second degree felony theft of property,  originating from an unrelated case,  Jacob Thompson was sentenced in Hopkins County, Texas to serve 10 years on probation for the first degree felony and 10 years deferred probation for the second degree felony.

 

Selling livestock without a permit:

In January 2018,  Jacob Thompson “was fined $3,150 for violating five Louisiana regulations including selling livestock without a permit,”  Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry spokesperson Veronica Mosgrove confirmed to Janet McConnaughey of Associated Press.

Two other members of the Thompson family,  one of whom was previously convicted with Jacob Thompson,  were reportedly arrested for alleged livestock theft in Allen Parish,  Louisiana,  as recently as June 1,  2018.

 

“Put up for adoption through nonprofits”

“The agreement with Thompson’s Horse Lot is to capture the horses,  then put them up for adoption through nonprofit groups,”  reported Lauren Lanmon of KXAN-TV in San Marcos,  Texas on June 18,  2018.  “However,  if nonprofit groups are unable to adopt the horses and members of the public don’t step up,  the horses are sold at auction and likely slaughtered.”

Todd Ahlman,  director of the Stephen F. Austin University Center for Archaeological Studies,  repeatedly insisted to media that all of the horses collected by the Thompsons were “adopted to nonprofit horse rescue groups,”  not sold to slaughter.

But Louisiana animal advocates discovered considerable circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

 

Meridian Falls Ranch:

Among the three “nonprofit horse rescue groups” receiving horses from Fort Polk,  for instance,  was Meridian Falls Ranch,  of Buffalo, Texas,  incorporated in August 2015 by Shandi Ann Lebron.  Lebron,  like Jacob Thompson,  had a multi-count history of arrests for alleged offenses involving livestock.

Forty-four horses rounded up at Fort Polk and Peason Ridge in May and June 2018 were reportedly transferred through Meridian Falls Ranch to the Elkhart Horse Auction in Elkhart, Texas.

Reported Pamela Sleezer of the Lake Charles American Press on August 5,  2018,  “Earlier this year, TSU ended its contract with Fort Polk,  which resulted in [Jacob] Thompson losing his contract to round up the horses.”

But that left many and perhaps most of the 200 horses removed from Fort Polk and Peason Ridge in 2018 still unaccounted for.

 

Hal Parker:

Gary Thompson was the second longtime horse trader and purported conduit of horses to rescue to be arrested for alleged cruelty in Louisiana during the first few months of 2019.

The first,  Thompson associate Hal Parker,  60,  was arrested in Marion,  Union Parish,  on February 19,  2019,  charged with four counts of cruelty to animals and one count of horse theft.

Union Parish is about three hours’ drive northeast of Fort Polk,  near the Arkansas state line.

Parker “was taken into custody following a five-week investigation into his involvement in acquiring horses,  mostly thoroughbreds,  from auction houses known for selling animals for slaughter,  that Parker would then re-sell,  according to a Union Parish Sheriff’s Office press release,”  wrote Eric Mitchell of Bloodhorse Magazine.

 

 

“Paid for horse never received”

The theft charge,  Mitchell said,  is “related to allegations that a woman in Iowa paid for a horse she never received,  according to the sheriff’s office.  Parker’s bond was set at $250,000.”

Union Parish Sheriff Dusty Gates told media that his office “began investigating Parker,.”  Mitchell summarized,  “after the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization published an online article on August 29,  2018,  about the efforts of a rescue organization named ICareIHelp,”  operated by Dina Alborano of Trenton,  New Jersey,  “to raise money online in order to buy horses from kill pen auctions.”

Alborano,  52,  a regionally noted runner at the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer distances from age 9 until her mid-thirties,  “had a meteoric rise in the world of thoroughbred horse rescue after a January 16, 2018 article written about her by veteran racing writer Steve Haskin,”  recounted Victoria Keith of the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization,  in the August 2018 exposé that Gates cited,  published by the Paulick Report.

 

 

“Questions bubbling to the surface”

“But questions about Alborano and ICareIHelp started bubbling to the surface,”  Keith wrote.  “The first was that ICareIHelp was not a non-profit,  as stated on its website.  More disturbing, however,  was that Alborano had chosen as the quarantine and care provider for her organization a man named Hal Parker.  Hal Parker is a former employee of the Stanley Brothers, one of the largest and most notorious kill buyer organizations in the country.

“After leaving the Stanleys,”  Keith charged,  “Parker continued extorting horses via his Facebook pages for various owners and perhaps himself.  He partnered with Alborano in late 2017 and worked almost exclusively for ICareIHelp until recently,  when he also started fronting for Thompson’s Horse Lot.”

Horses found in Parker’s possession,  at multiple locations,  were reportedly malnourished and suffering from a variety of contagious diseases,  including strangles.

 

 

Horses unaccounted for:

Of 181 horses Parker is believed to have acquired from kill pens in the name of rescue,  55 could not be accounted for.

“According to the sheriff’s office press release,”  Mitchell of Bloodhorse continued,  “investigators found that Parker and ICareIHelp would appeal for money in order to rescue thoroughbreds from kill pens and then advertise the horses for resale on the organization’s website, ‘complete with photographs showing healthy horses.  Those horses were then delivered,  often in emaciated conditions or with diseases,’  the sheriff’s office release stated.”

Added Mitchell,  “State vets visited the properties where Parker kept horses and filed disease investigation reports at least seven times between February and August of 2018,  according to public records supplied to BloodHorse by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry.”

 

ICareIHelp “no longer actively rescuing”

The ICareIHelp web site currently states,  “icareihelp is no longer actively rescuing, as we are no longer accepting donations.”

Concluded Victoria Keith,  “Most horse rescues and individuals knowledgeable about rescue believe that it’s generally unwise to purchase or ‘bail’ horses from a kill pen.  It doesn’t make those individuals heartless.  They detest seeing the horses being extorted on social media,  but they know that if they pay the kill buyers then that money will be used to buy and extort the next batch of horses.  It’s a vicious and painful cycle for the horses and horse lovers,  and big business for kill buyers.  The extortion business pays them double,  triple, or even quadruple what they are paid by the slaughter plant.  Slaughter buyers will never stop extorting horses until their clients stop ‘bailing’ them.

 

“In the meantime,”  Keith finished, “legitimate rescues are paying the price. Donations are down,  adoptions are down, and the price to outbid slaughter buyers at livestock auctions has increased so high that it’s driven most rescues and private buyers out of the livestock auction market.”

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AQHA NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM ENCOUNTERS SOME ROADBLOCKS

Posted by on Apr 2, 2019 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE ORGANIZATIONS, INDUSTRY NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

AQHA NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM AND UPDATED WEBSITE ENCOUNTERS SOME ROADBLOCKS

April 2, 2019

Having problems with your registrations and transfers with the AQHA? According to a press release from AQHA President Stan Weaver, the AQHA has encountered “some roadblocks after transitioning to a new computer system and updated website. 

“Overall, both applications are doing well yet the delivery of services is. not where we feel it should be for our customers,” said Weaver.

He continued, saying that prior to launching the database and website, they performed multiple rounds of testing. Although they did expect to have some issues, as is typically the case in any large system conversion, unfortunately some ofd those issues turned out to be critical to the day-to-day needs of our business.

“The kinks are being worked out, but. Maybe not as quickly as we would like,” said Weaver “We ask for your patience. You will find it worthwhile once things smooth out.

Weaver apologized saying, “The new system would allow the AQHA to use a more modernized platform as the foundation of all future projects, such as a personalized member dashboard that will allow you to see the status of your daywork and pay invoices online.

“Our goal is to have the majority of these critical issues addressed over the next few weeks. Those significant issues related to business transactions, such as registration and transfers, creating an account and logins, record ordering and credit cards will be fixed.

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48 STATES, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUERTO RICO & VIRGIN ISLANDS MAKE SOME ANIMAL CRUELTY FELONIES

Posted by on Apr 2, 2019 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE ABUSE, HORSE NEWS, RICK'S CORNER, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

FORTY EIGHT STATES, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUERTO RICO & VIRGIN ISLAND MAKE SOME ANIMAL CRUELTY FELONIES

 

ANOTHER HORSE DIES AT SANTA ANITA RACE TRACK; VIRGINIA ADOPTS “TOMMIE’S LAW”

 

By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
For allaboutcutting.net
April 2, 2019

ANOTHER HORSE DIES AT SANTA ANITA RACETRACK

The Sports Report: It’s time to stop racing and replace the track at Santa Anita – Los Angeles Times.

An article, by Houston Mitchell, published on April 1 in the Los Angeles Times reports: Well, another horse died at Santa Anita on Sunday.  Arms Runner, a 5-year-old gelding, fell on the dirt track crossover of a 6 1/2-furlong race on the hillside turf course. He appeared to suffer a catastrophic injury to his right front leg and was euthanized.This makes 23 horses to die at Santa Anita since Dec. 26.

“While this incident happened during competition on a track that has been deemed by independent experts to be safe,” said Santa Anita said in a statement, “We are working closely with the CHRB to understand if there was anything additional that we could have done to prevent Sunday’s tragedy.”

It’s time to stop racing at Santa Anita until more drastic steps are taken. You can change or ban the amount of medications given to a horse and you can stop jockeys from using their riding crop, but none of that changes the fact that 23 horses have died at Santa Anita since Dec. 26. If those numbers were people, the sport would be shut down. I’m not saying the life of a horse and a person is equivalent. But what I am saying is the life of a horse has some intrinsic value and it’s time to stop turning a blind eye to it.

However, some will say, “But this is what they were bred to do. Making these horses stop would be damaging to them.”

”Yes. You know what else is damaging to them? Dying.

In my opinion, Santa Anita needs to replace the entire track. And why do I focus on the track and not some other cause, like medication or riding crops? Because 23 horses haven’t died in three months at any other track. There has to be some sort of problem with the Santa Anita track.

We’ve been very lucky that no jockeys have been seriously injured, or even worse, from one of these incidents. Let’s hope that’s not what it will take for the outcry to be so overwhelming that drastic steps be taken.  To read the entire article, click on the following LINK:

 

HUMANE SOCIETY ANNOUNCES ANIMAL CRUELTY A FELONY IN 48 STATES:

According to an announcement by the Humane Society, 48 states in the USA have adopted FELONY ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS, even for the first offense.  To see if your state is included on the list, click on the following LINK.

 

VIRGINIA ADOPTS “TOMMIE’S LAW”

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia is the latest or 49th state to adopt a felony animal cruelty law named “Tommie’s Law” that was enacted due to an animal cruelty where a Pit-bull dog was tied to a fence, doused with a flammable material and set on fire.

According to WGN(9) Chicago, lawmakers passed ‘Tommie’s Law’ to make an animal cruelty charge a felony in Virginia. The bill is awaiting the governors signature. Ten days after a pit bull named “Tommie” was found tied to a pole and on fire at Abner Clay Park in Jackson Ward, Virginia’s legislature passed a bill that would stiffen the penalty for animal cruelty.  Even though the bill is based off another animal cruelty case, some are dubbing it “Tommie’s Law.”

According to WTVR in Richmond, the legislation by Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) increases the penalty for “cruelly or unnecessarily beating, maiming, mutilating or killing a dog or cat” to a felony.  Under current law, the animal must die as a direct result of the torture or inhumane injury before a suspect faces a felony charge.

Desteph said he has been working on the legislation for three years after a dog name Sugar was attacked with a machete in Virginia Beach.

“It should be named for every one of those cases,” DeSteph said.  “The crime matches the penalty. Not whether the dog lives or dies, the act of maliciously wounding or torturing a dog is the felony.”

Tommie was tied to a fence in Abner Clay Park in Richmond on Sunday, Feb. 10, doused in accelerant, then set on fire.  He lived for another five days before, as Richmond Animal Care and Control announced his death in a Facebook post, “his body simply gave out” and he stopped breathing.

“They couldn’t charge him with a felony until Tommie passed away, which is a horrible thing. The act itself is the horrible thing too. The act itself should be the felony, not the outcome,” DeSteph said.

Memorials at both Abner Clay Park and RACC continue to grow.  All week long, supporters of Tommie can stop by RACC on Chamberlayne Avenue to pay their respects and drop off donations in Tommie’s name.

“For somebody to have the heart to set a dog on fire, that’s like setting a human being’s body on fire,” said Jamilah Jones, who stopped by RACC to show Tommie love.

To read the full article click on the following LINK:

 

For years, I’ve been reporting that animal cruelty laws are expanding, becoming tougher on the offender and even has been adopted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in how, animal cruelty crimes are reported and categorized. In all fifty states the (FBI) is categorizing animal cruelty in the same categories as “Crimes Against Persons.”  

It’s long been known, there’s a direct correlation between animal abuse and violent offender acts being committed, in our society.  One would think, animal abusers would stop their animal abuse activities before he or she makes an extended stay trip to the “Grey Bar Hotel.” Guess we’ll wait and see!

“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle!”

Copyright April 2, 2019, all rights reserved.

Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
WIND RIVER COMPANY LLC
Managing Member
Phone:  (985) 630-3500
Email: richardedennis@outlook.com
Web Site:  http://www.richardedennis.net

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LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE BILL TO MAKE ANIMAL CRUELTY A NATIONWIDE FELONY

Posted by on Apr 1, 2019 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE ABUSE, INDUSTRY NEWS, REINING NEWS, RODEO & BULLRIDING NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE BILL TO MAKE ANIMAL CRUELTY A NATIONWIDE FELONY

 

ABUSERS COULD GET SEVEN YEARS IN PRISON IF FOUND GUILTY

 

By Carly Sitzer
Orlando Sentinel

Lawmakers out of Florida are introducing a new bill that will make animal cruelty a felony nationwide. Reps. Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan — a democrat and a republican, respectively — are behind the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which targets “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling animals.”

If the law passes, those found guilty of such acts of violence against animals could face up to seven years in prison, should they be found guilty.

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Rep. Buchanan said to the Orlando Sentinel of the bill. His partner said the effort is “commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws.”

The congressmen have noted that there have been other bills in the past that address the abuse against animals on both the state and federal levels — most notably, a 2010 law aimed at stopping punishing those who create videos that show animals being subjected to torture — but the lawmakers behind the PACT Act believe that those laws aren’t comprehensive enough.

Rep. Deutch added, “We’ve acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos. Now it’s time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well.”

This isn’t the first time the PACT Act has been introduced to lawmakers; it was previously passed by the U.S. Senate, unanimously, on two separate occasions and earned more than 200 law enforcement endorsements in the previous session of Congress. However, in the House, it was blocked from coming to the floor by former Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who is no longer serving in Congress.

The Humane Society applauded the new introduction, and hoped it would eliminate the loophole caused by former legislation that made it only illegal when video was being recorded. Despite the failure of the PACT Act to become a reality in the past, Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, told the Sentinel that she’s optimistic the bill will pass this time — and is likely to reduce other types of crime.

“Decades ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans,” she explained.

The bill will include some exceptions for normal veterinary care, hunting and conduct necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat caused by an animal.

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COULD WIND TURBINES & SOLAR PANELS BE KILLING COWS?

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, INDUSTRY NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

WIND TURBINES AND SOLAR PANELS SUSPECTED OF KILLING HUNDREDS OF COWS IN FRANCE

By Glory Ann Kurtz
Information taken from  an article in Oddity Central

March 28, 2019

When driving from the Dallas/Fort Worth area to Amarillo, Texas, one drives through an area of cattle grazing on pastures with solar panel towers speckled across the area. At times I’ve wondered if the electricity generated by those towers might affect the grass-covered fields, as well as the cattle grazing on them.

According to a recent French publication,  Europe1, cattle farmers in France’s Brittany region have lost hundreds of cows to deaths that veterinarians simply can’t explain. However, after running tests on their cattle, some claim that solar panels and wind turbines in the area are releasing too much electricity into the ground, which is slowly killing their animals. In fact, some farmers in Cote-d’Amour have sustained hundreds of losses in mysterious conditions. A local farmer said that his cattle started losing weight a few years back and many of them died. 

According to a March 26 article by Spooky, the animals didn’t seem to be suffering from any diseases and the veterinarians couldn’t explain the cause of death. However, a local farmer, Patrick Le Nechet concluded that the mysterious deaths started occurring around the time that a photovoltaic installation appeared in the area. He began to suspect solar panels near his farm to be to blame for the mysterious deaths of his cattle.

“The cows started losing weight and we’ve lost 120 of them in the last five years,” said Le Necht. 

He started to conduct tests on his land and found that there were electrical currents of over one volt both in the ground and in the water, three times the accepted threshold for animals. He said “There is a direct electrical current going into the earth.”

Another cattle farmer, Stephane Le Brechec,  from Allineuc lost even more cows in mysterious conditions. A total of 37 cows died in six months and today the death count is over 200. He claims he has 500,000 euros invested and cannot pay his bills. He has identified at least seven probable culprits including wind tubes, antennas and transformers.

However, at this point French cattle farmers are merely speculating because there is no irrefutable proof that the electrical current from sustainable energy installations is killing the cows. However, the negative effect electricity has on cattle is well documented, claiming that an electrical current sent into the ground by large transformers influenced the health and behavior of a French farmer’s cows from Val de Saone, in Rhone.

“When there are power spikes, some cows gather in one corner, others start to limp and calves that felt good the day before, die,” the farmer told Le Progres, adding that many of his cows were also losing weight and producing considerably less milk.

A building advisor of the Sanitary Defense Group, confirmed that electricity can indeed cause problems for cattle farmers.

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HIGHWAY ROBBERY WITHOUT A GUN!

Posted by on Mar 27, 2019 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, FROM THE EDITOR, INDUSTRY NEWS, LAWSUITS & INDICTMENTS, RICK'S CORNER, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

HIGHWAY ROBBERY, WITHOUT A GUN

 

CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE – A MUCH-NEEDED LAW-ENFORCEMENT TOOL

 

By Glory Ann Kurtz 
March 27, 2019

What does Civil Asset Forfeiture have to do with Allaboutcutting.net, you might ask?  The primary reason is that Allaboutcutting.net specializes in news concerning the horse industry and if you’re in the horse industry and you carry a lot of cash, as most do while traveling, this article may impact you in a significant way. The impact may come in the form of a stop on the highway by law enforcement due to a minor moving-vehicle infraction.  Once stopped, the law enforcement officer may ask to search your vehicle, simply due to the fact that he or she suspects you fit the profile of a drug dealer.

If you consent to the search or inspection of yourself, as most law abiding citizens would do, your stash of cash may be discovered and seized by law enforcement, due in part simply because the law enforcement agent thinks you are in possession of the cash due to illegal criminal activity of some type.  Simply stated: Civil – Asset forfeiture laws allow the government to take cash, cars, homes and other property suspected of being involved in criminal activity. Unlike criminal forfeiture, with civil forfeiture, the property owner doesn’t have to be charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime to permanently lose his property.

States like Minnesota and others have recently passed laws limiting the use of civil forfeiture; however, legislators left in place a provision allowing local law enforcement to work with federal officials to bypass the tougher state law. Once federal prosecutors forfeit the property, they give 80 percent back to the local officials. Do you agree that state law enforcement officials should be allowed to participate in and benefit from forfeitures that are not permitted under state law?

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION (ACLU)

State:  Police abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws has shaken our nation’s conscience. Civil forfeiture allows police to seize — and then keep or sell — any property they allege is involved in a crime. Owners need not ever be arrested or convicted of a crime for their cash, cars, or even real estate to be taken away permanently by the government.

Forfeiture was originally presented as a way to cripple large-scale criminal enterprises by diverting their resources. But today, aided by deeply flawed federal and state laws, many police departments use forfeiture to benefit their bottom lines, making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting. For people whose property has been seized through civil asset forfeiture, legally regaining such property is notoriously difficult and expensive, with costs sometimes exceeding the value of the property. With the total value of property seized increasing every year, calls for reform are growing louder, and CLRP is at the forefront of organizations seeking to rein in the practice.

ROOTS OF CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE

While its roots in the common law are deep, modern civil forfeiture is justified primarily on the grounds that it allows law enforcement to seize the assets and ill-gotten gains of these criminals, using the property and proceeds to fight against other alleged criminals. Unfortunately, civil asset forfeiture is also used by law enforcement as a way to generate revenue and many of its targets are innocent members of the public. 

WHO’S TARGETED?

Don’t police target only criminals?

Unfortunately, no. There are many stories of innocent people having their property seized. For example, between 2006 and 2008, law enforcement agents in Tenaha, Texas, engaged in a systematic practice of seizing cash and property from innocent drivers with absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. In Philadelphia, police seized the home of two sisters whose brother, who did not live there, showed up while trying to evade the cops. In Detroit, cops seized over a hundred cars owned by patrons of an art institute event because the institute had failed to get a liquor license. You can be totally innocent and still be unable to stop the government from seizing your property.

Supreme Court Limits Police Powers to Seize Private Property

Following is an article published in the New York Times written by Adam Liptak and Shaila Dewan

Feb. 20, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Constitution places limits on the ability of states and localities to take and keep cash, cars, houses and other private property used to commit crimes.

The practice, known as civil forfeiture, is a popular way to raise revenue and is easily abused and it has been the subject of widespread criticism across the political spectrum. The court’s decision will open the door to new legal arguments when the value of the property seized was out of proportion to the crimes involved.

In this case, the court sided with Tyson Timbs, a small-time drug offender in Indiana who pleaded guilty to selling $225 of heroin to undercover police officers. He was sentenced to one year of house arrest, five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $1,200 in fees and fines.

State officials also seized Mr. Timbs’s $42,000 Land Rover, which he had bought with the proceeds of his father’s life insurance policy, saying he had used it to commit crimes. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bars “excessive fines,” limits the ability of the federal government to seize property. On Wednesday, in a 9-to-0  decision that united justices on the left and right, the court ruled that the clause also applies to the states under the 14th Amendment, one of the post-Civil War amendments.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for eight justices, said the question before the court was an easy one. “The historical and logical case for concluding that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming,” she wrote.  For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” she wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies.”

Quoting from an earlier decision, she wrote that even absent a political motive, “fines may be employed ‘in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence,’ for ‘fines are a source of revenue,’ while other forms of punishment “cost a state money.”

 

THE WIND RIVER COMPANY LLC & RICHARD E. “RICK” DENNIS

Rick Dennis is a former drug-enforcement agent and law-enforcement professional, who is currently the Managing Member of Wind River Company LLC, a Louisiana-organized Limited Liability Company specializing in a myriad of private-sector security services.  Rick is also a freelance author, writer and a contributing writer to all Allaboutcutting.net.  When I asked him about his opinion on Civil – Asset forfeiture, Rick stated:  “Back in the day, when I was in drug enforcement, we had to have probable cause and a conviction to seize assets derived from criminal activity. Today, in my opinion, the expansion of Civil – Asset forfeiture by Jeff Sessions, was enacted, with perhaps good intentions to fight crime but has evolved into depriving citizens of personal assets without due process. In other words, today all that a law-enforcement officer has to have is a “suspicion” that an individual is involved in a criminal activity to seize an individual’s life work – all absent of a conviction of criminal wrong doing.  A suspicion of illegal activity can be as simple as an individual with a pocket full of cash going on vacation with his family, who can’t readily account for how he or she legally came in possession of the cash, simply because the bank withdrawal slip, necessary to prove legality, is back home.  

“In my opinion, a misguided thought process doesn’t take precedent over the “Rule of Law,” established probable cause, the judicial system and “Due Process.”  Further, and in my opinion, what Jeff Sessions has done is create a “Cash Cow” for law enforcement to expand their operating budgets, while trampling on the ‘civil liberties’ of American citizens and others entering the country for business or pleasure.  In its current form, it’s a bad law and should be repealed. I’ve devoted my life’s work to law enforcement and the Rule of Law and there’s no reward or exception for Bad Police Work.   

“Currently, as a Risk Analyst, I’m involved in a Michigan case where my client’s assets were seized absent of a conviction. The case is currently before the Michigan Supreme Court.  Mr. Donald Barnes is my client and Mr. David Mofitt is his criminal defense attorney. After performing an extensive review and Risk Analysis of the case, and being limited to details for discussion, it’s my opinion that this is just another case of “Bad Police Work” that’s working its way through the judicial system at a high cost to my client.  However, Mr. Barnes is legally represented by a very competent attorney at law.  Mr. Mofitt and I are diligently working, in unison, to bring a favorable resolution for Mr. Barnes in this nightmarish episode in his life.”

Rick went on to say, “Under the current form, the Civil Asset-Forfeiture Law could ensnare me as well as anybody else who carries cash while traveling.  I normally carry upwards of a thousand or more dollars in my pocket in case an emergency arises.  Therefore, I make it a habit while traveling to have on my person my business and personal check book as well as bank supplied deposit and withdrawal slips to prove the legality of my cash-on-hand” in the event I’m ever stopped, by law enforcement.”

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/jeff-sessions-and-the-resurgence-of-civil-asset-forfeiture

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/us/politics/civil-asset-forfeiture-supreme-court.html

https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/local/legislation-moving-in-lansing-could-change-local-law-enforcement-handling/article_d1d71558-4b1c-11e9-93f4-b3a8efe36921.html

 

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