U.S. v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency

No really, that’s the name of the case.

The Eighth Circuit Appeals Court recently ruled that police may seize cash from motorists, citing that “possession of a large sum of cash is ‘strong evidence’ of a connection to drug activity.” The case, in which Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez — a man with a “lack of significant criminal history” — was caught with the “crime” of having too much cash on him, so they confiscated it, and apparently pressed charges against the money itself and took it to court.

Says Radley Balko:

Gonzolez was never even charged with a drug crime, much less convicted. Which means the prosecutors didn’t even have enough evidence to bring the case to trial. Yet the state still took the man’s $125,000, money he had a pretty respectable explanation for, complete with witnesses. That’s not even mentioning the fact that in a free society, a man never charged with a crime shouldn’t have to vouch for the legitimacy of the money he’s carrying, no matter how he happens to be carrying it.

Dead presidents have no rights.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. It doesn’t get much more outrageous than this. This story should become the de facto “case in point” when explaining too someone that we no longer live in a free country.

  2. Can you see this being expanded so cops can eventually take someone’s (name of a real expensive car here), because only a drug dealer could afford a vehicle like that?

  3. considering he wasn’t actually convicted, how is this not an apparent breech of due process in the eyes of the court? we shouldn’t be surprised however, asset forfeiture has been a threat to our liberty for sometime.

  4. Pretty soon they’ll have checkpoints where you’ll be asked to get out of your car, then some large machine will grab you by the ankles, hang you upside down, and shake. Whatever falls out of your pockets is theirs.

  5. Just like the eminent domain case in Connecticut, this has been going on for a long time in this country. It is just cases like this that bring it to attention of people like us.

    And, jnice, they do sieze cars without any due process. They will often go on to sell the car without even charging anyone. I saw a TV news investigation a while back where a woman had her car stolen by the cops in Louisiana who claimed that there was a place in the car that could be used to store drugs. There were also many other cases that they mentioned of money being taken too. They set up hidden cameras on a car to monitor the driving and they were pulled over in Louisiana, and the cop made up a bunch of things that the drivers weren’t doing. It was mainly about them targeting cars with out of state license plates.

  6. As if I needed another concrete example of outrageous systemic misconduct to fuel my already passionate disgust for this society’s significantly disfucntional law-enforcement culture!

    Always better to know the truth, no matter how atrocious, than to live in a bubble of fantasy and make-believe while, all around you, the ‘real’ world is going straight to hell.

    I almost never use banks because of privacy concerns. I may pop a couple hundred at a time in a checking account to cover regular electronic drafts but the rest of my cash is either ON MY PERSON or tucked away somewhere.

    Not a single dollar that I possess has been earned in illegal activity–when I have money, I f~ckin WORK for it.

    Now, on top of everything else I have to be dissatisfied about in this “good ol’ U. S. of A>!”, I have to come to terms that police officers can take my cash from my person, without ever having charged me with a crime, and never return that cash to me.

    That’s just f~cked, F~cked, F~CKED!!!

  7. Yes this case is outrageous but it certainly is not unique. Every day across this country asset forfeiture is used by government to take people’s property and cash even though these people have never been convicted, let alone charged, with a crime.

    What more evidence to people need before they wake up to the fact that they live in a police state? Of course you will very rarely hear about the outrages of asset forfeiture on the nightly news.

  8. Note the name of the case, “U.S. v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency,” not “U.S. v. Emiliano Gomez Gonzolez.”

    The government prosecuted a civil case against the money and thus have a lower burden of proof than they would have if they had prosecuted a person for a crime.

    The underlying principle is that we have greater protections against taking a liberty interest (your freedom) than taking a monetary interest (your money).

    Still, this decision sucked.

  9. It is sad, the police have been committing crimes such as this for as long as I can remember. I have read I do not know how many articles about cars, boats, and homes being seized and sold at auction without their owners being convicted, or charged with a crime.

    It may seem extremist, but I am a firm believer that if a group is infringing upon your rights, you have toi fight them. You have to fight them, and you have to be willing to kill them, if it comes to that.

    Noone has a right to take what is rightfully yours, not the government, not an individual, not anyone, and until we as a people are willing to fight, and die, and kill to prevent this sort of behavior, it will continue to occur.

    Sic semper tyrannis.

  10. This is just a step away from seizing my debit card and checks because I have money in my accounts.

    Why print money if one cannot possess money?

    Are postage stamps next?

  11. This is truely sad. Everyone in involved in stealing this man’s money (the judge, prosecutor, ect)should be court ordered to repay him an equal amount prior to be sentenced to a long time in jail. And just maybe while in jail these a-holes should recieve daily beatings for thier crime along with electric shock therepy to cure them of thier criminal impulses.

    A thief is a thief is a thief and a thief by any other name still smells as bad!

    My question is, does anyone know if there is anything I could do to help this poor victim out? Is he plaining to sue and if so is there an account to donate to his legal fees? Or has there been a bank account set up in his name that I could send money to to help him recover some of his loss?

    Truely tragic and depressing this is.

  12. Where is the outraged jury members who heard this case?
    Where is Alan Dershowitz, the ACLU, the Institute for Justice? Is there something about this case that isn’t being revealed? This means that anyone who doesn’t trust banks – keeps their money in their mattress – can have it confiscated? I can’t believe any liberal, conservative or
    libertarian would stand for that so how did this happen?

  13. There are other things besides distrusting banks that would cause an individual to carry 6+ digits in cash in a motor vehicle, that have absolutely nothing to do with anything illicit.

    Farmers routinely use ‘seed money’ — which is generally provided in cash — to acquire seed for the current crop. This is due to peculiarities of the financial transactions involved.

    This is indeed a travesty of justice, and I don’t know of a damned thing that can be done to stop it.

  14. Nobody such as the ACLU is likely to hop on this one.

    The reason is because you do not own Federal Reserve Notes. You are granted the priveledge of using them – they are never your property. You pay interest in it’s myriad forms, as a cost of using Federal Reserve Notes. They don’t “let” you use them for free. If that fact were to be contested, then the whole Federal Reserve System might possibly come into question.

  15. It does seem shady but the fact they didnt prove their case means they should give him the money back.

  16. i see your point, but the value of the tender was the property
    of the victim. By taking the tender the victim was deprived of the value of the money. Maybe we should just carry gold and silver.

  17. Well, all I can say is, this is utterly digusting. It’s worse than a miscarriage of justice, as clearly there was NO potential justice anyway: as has been said, all those involved, both those on the side of the ‘law’ (so-called) and those attending court on the defendant’s side. The whole CHAIN of events, from the initial and thoroughly wrong confiscation, to the legal procedures and those involved, right to the members of public, SHOULD have raised their objection!

    How would one fight back? Well, maybe arrange a phoney telephone call about possible drug connection on someone within the police force, politicians, judges or whoever; then IF anything came of it, then a thorough examination of how THEY got off (as they WOULD) might then show the way for the rest of us – but somehow I doubt much would come to light (they’d want it that way) BUT a private investigation might just provide a few revellations!

    It reminds me of what’s happening here in the UK also. Things here are on par!

  18. CONTD. from No.24 – sorry everyone!

    Alternatively, if one is really serious about avoiding the Big Brother creeping control, is use the Net to find like-minded people, and set up a commune that would be as independant from the rest of US society as possible, and where no ‘currency’ changes hands. All trade and service dealings would be on a ‘barter’ system. Authorities hate it because taxation is then SO difficult to implement; but it CAN be done. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’.

    Finally, for all those wanting to avoid paying too much tax, and also keeping your money to yourself, then it means a bit of travel (but it can be fun, especially if part of a holiday) as somewhere like Austria and/or Liechtenstein (in Europe) where you can open an ‘invisible’ (to the authorities) account called a ‘fiduciary’ account (and there can be tax breaks for foreigners too) where instead of an account in your name, it’s merely a number. It can be done! Fight against those who dare to control!

  19. This is inaccurate. I don’t think one of these posters even read the article or the actual appeal itself.

  20. I think carrying $120,000 in cash is “probable cause” for a search… But that’s it.

  21. Just for a laugh I dressed really shabby, took out ofver $100,000 and went to a dealership to buy a Merc.

    They didnt give me the time of day until I dropped $134,000 on their table in a grocery bag.

    What would have happened if I was caught by the cops with that money?

    This is a police state we live in!

  22. to michael: Read it… and it’s just as bad as it sounds, if not worse. this is a guy and his friends’ life savings gone because a dog barked. why do we have lawmakers that would set a precedent like this? when you hear about this shit, you really have to wonder what made america so great in the first place. constitution – nice idea, but people always find a way to fuck it up. the checks and balances are Gone – and if you believe in freedom, get rid of the lot of them. republicans first.

  23. This is a bad situation made much worse because the guy apparently gave up most of his rights when he was pulled over. The article states that the cash was in the trunk in a cooler.How did they find that if he did not allow them to search. What cause had the officer too search the car? Being that the guy did not speak much english, did he in fact consent to the search. IANAL, but seems to me that this is really more shady that at first glance.

  24. >This is inaccurate. I don’t think one of these posters
    >even read the article or the actual appeal itself.

    Yes. It’s amazing the people here don’t realize our rulers love us and just want to protect us from those nasty, nasty drugs. It’s clear that anyone with over a $100 in his pocket may be tempted to buy drugs. It’s the pure altruism of our government masters that leads them to take the money, thus saving us from drugs. We should be grateful. Thank God people like Michael realize this.

    >I think carrying $120,000 in cash is “probable cause” for >a search

    Exactly. Your rulers love you and know you would probably buy a lot of drugs with that money.

  25. This is why the world thinks the USA is a joke…. if it wasn’t for all those guns. Much the same way as you electing George W. for president is hilarious except that he now as control over the entire US nuclear arsenal.

  26. kodeabe,

    The only people who elected Dubai-ya are 5 of 9 kangaroo kort judges (2000) and Ohio SOS Ken Blackwell (2004).

  27. I emailed this story (the original one) to a TV station in Nebraska — hopefully they will pick this up.

    This should be on 60 Minutes, or Larry King or something. This is ridiculous.

  28. its funny how its worked up to be so complicated when it’s simple: No conviction, no punishment. Give the man his damn money back!! This is why asset forfeiture gives me the taste of vomit in the back of my throat. Why is it so difficult for our law makers to figure it out. I also think there’s some racism/easy target syndrome going on. Police have a nasty way of taking advantage of those who don’t know their rights.

  29. Dont argue to logic or reason on drugs. Argue to morality. When you can successfully make the case to people that your morality is of a higher order than the the other side’s, you win.

  30. Too many people think that all Libertarians want to do is smoke dope and all to often new people coming into the party insist we need to drop the drug issue. Even some long time members seem to be afraid to fight this.
    It would be great if we could turn the issue around and focus on this and the corruption in the judicial system and a number of other problems associated with the so called war on drugs. Any ideas?

  31. Here’s something you may want to latch onto.
    Calif may legalize industrial hemp.
    The bill is on the Governor’s desk.
    Evergreen Libertarian

  32. why haven’t the judges/prosecutor’s/leo’s been “taken away” from society? c’mon ppl, it’s easy to create a disappearance.