Here’s another one of those situations that is absolutely appalling to pretty much everyone, regardless of political ideology, and yet government officials do it without a moment’s hesitation and can’t imagine why anyone would be upset by it. A prosecutor in Oklahoma hired a private company to seize hundreds of thousands of dollars during traffic stops.
After seizing more than $1 million in cash in drug stops this year, a district attorney has suspended further roadside busts by his task force because of growing criticism over a private company’s participation.
His prosecutors have dropped all criminal cases arising from the drug stops, The Oklahoman was told. Some seized money is being returned. The attorney general’s office is investigating one complaint some seized funds went missing…
The judge spoke at a hearing after learning the private company’s owner pulled over a pregnant driver along Interstate 40 and questioned her even though he is not a state-certified law enforcement officer.
“For people to pull over people on I-40 without that license is shocking to me,” Special Judge David A. Stephens said.
The judge said he hoped Joe David, owner of Desert Snow LLC, wouldn’t do it again.
“If you do, I hope to see you soon, wearing orange,” the judge said, referring to the color of jail clothes in Caddo County…He signed a one-of-its-kind contract in January to pay the Guthrie-based company 25 percent of any funds seized during actual training days. He agreed to pay the company 10 percent of funds seized by his task force on other days when the company trainers weren’t present.
Most stops have been along a 21-mile stretch of I-40 in the rolling hills of Caddo County.
Sometimes, no drugs were found and no one was arrested, but task force officers took money found in the vehicles anyway after a drug-sniffing dog got excited.
Forfeited funds are split among the law enforcement agencies of the task force after Desert Snow is paid.
Hicks has paid the company more than $40,000 so far. The company could get another $212,000 off the largest seizure its officials participated in — the discovery of almost $850,000 in May.
But here’s the worst part:
In a lengthy interview Thursday, Hicks said he did nothing wrong.
“I believe I have done everything right,” he said.
Of course you do. But you’re wrong. And so are the laws that allow this to happen at all, no matter who is seizing the money. If you can’t prove that the person who had the property, including money, had gotten it through crime or was using it to commit a crime, you can’t seize it. Conviction first, then punishment. How is that not obvious to everyone?