So You Thought Your Winnings Are Safe? Think Again
March 19, 2014

So You Thought Your Winnings Are Safe? Think Again

Everyone that goes to a casino dreams of winning it big. Even people who play bingo, by lottery tickets and bet on the horses, all have one thing in common; a big payday.

Let’s say you do hit it big and you think you are set. Think again! Especially in Nevada.

Recently, a man named Tan Nguyen, according to Top Speed, claimed he won $50,000 at a local casino and was on his way to his cousin’s in California. As he drove through Humboldt County, Nevada, blue lights appeared behind him. Like any other law-abiding citizen would do, he pulled over.

Deputy Lee Dove allegedly stopped him from doing 78 in a 75-mph zone. Upon searching Nguyen’s vehicle, the briefcase containing the $50,000 was opened. Dove then claimed he smelt marijuana and forced Nguyen to sign a “property for safekeeping receipt.”

Dove then proceeded to inform Nguyen that he would confiscate his car if he didn’t sign it. After finding no drugs, Dove warned him about speeding, took the money and left without issuing him a citation of any kind.

The next day, a picture of Dove was released of him with the money and a caption reading; “This cash would have been used to purchase illegal drugs and now will benefit Humboldt County with training and equipment. Great job.”

The story doesn’t stop there. Three months later, Dove pulled over Ken Smith and after discovering a man with the same name had a warrant, seized $13,000 and a 0.40-caliber handgun from him. The same thing happened, no citations were given and Dove left with the confiscated items. Ironically, the Ken Smith with the warrant was an African-American, whereas the Ken Smith who lost his money and gun was Caucasian.

Both of the victims of Dove’s seizures have filed lawsuits, but as it goes, Nevada has policies that stipulate the owner of the money must prove he obtained it legally. To top it off, the police get to keep 100 percent of anything confiscated.

“I don’t go to Nevada so I am safe,” is what you are thinking, right? Wrong! Twenty-five other states have the same policies allowing police to keep all seized items and 37 states have a “guilty until you prove your innocence” clause on forfeited items.

It’s not bad enough that a person’s money is taken from them in these confiscations, what’s done with it is even worse.

In Georgia, seized money was used to buy steak, booze and to see CeeLo Green.

In Texas, the DA spent $500 on booze and bought a margarita machine.

Also in Texas, another DA spent $27,000 at a six-day law conference in Hawaii.

In Georgia, a sheriff’s office spent $90,000 on the DARE program, which may sound commendable. But when the money is used to purchase a Dodge Viper, not so much.

The same sheriff hired inmates to build a $35,000 party house.

And the one that takes the cake, a vice squad in Michigan used the money to purchase drugs and prostitutes. Now that’s just hypocritical.

It all seems a little ridiculous that the very people we think are protecting us are stealing from us.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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