Editorial: Assets from crimes worth every cent

Earlier this week we brought you a look at the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act, specifically asset forfeiture.

The story’s concept was born from the Legal Notices we publish on a daily basis; frequently, I see a “forfeiture notice” announcing that a vehicle, weapons and, often, cash will soon be forever gone.

It’s funny to me, imagining someone coming forward for items like that known by authorities to be connected to crimes.

“Those are mine,” the man tells the county sheriff over the phone.

“Do you have proof? Title to the vehicle, receipt for purchase of the guns?”

“Yes, I do.”

“How about the cash? Is that yours?”

“Why, uh, yes that’s mine too.”

“There’s $114,000. Where did you get it? Can you tell us why it has cocaine residue on it?”

Click.

“Hey, Deputy, let’s reverse search this phone number for an address. We may have found the proper owners of not only those items up for forfeiture, but also who owns all that cocaine that’s in the lockup.”

Sorry I find that funny; reminds me of a television show or something.

And, while I am sure someone who’s innocent could find themselves buried in a pile of RICO red tape, such as a parent who owns the vehicle their drug-dealing son was driving (and they should get the property back, or at least the car), I have no problem with the concept of law enforcement seizing property tied to crimes.

Years ago I saw a dark-color Camaro stopping a car locally. I heard it’s a police car now, but used to belong to a drug dealer.

Considering that some of what the seized money or items go toward purchase of – such as bullet-proof vests, Tasers, gun sights, training, and overtime pay – critics need to do a self-check.

If you do not like this, how would you equip those charged with the job of protecting us? These items are worth every cent and life they protect. Plus, you never hear about a ne’er-do-well claiming the seized property belongs to them.