Judge dismisses Motel Caswell forfeiture action

by Walter Olson on January 26, 2013

Massachusetts: “A Tewksbury motel owner who just beat back U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s three-year bid to seize his business has become the latest critic to accuse the Hub’s top fed of prosecutorial bullying. … The feds first tried to grab [Russ] Caswell’s property in 2009 under drug seizure laws, citing numerous drug busts at the motel. Caswell’s defense team argued that he was not responsible for what guests did. And his lawyers found there was actually more drug activity at nearby businesses, and theorized the government was going after Caswell, who has no criminal record, because his mortgage-free property is worth more than $1 million.” [Boston Herald; earlier]

{ 4 comments }

1 Robert 01.26.13 at 5:42 pm

And, of course, we can wonder what would have happened if he tried to avert the drug activity by refusing to rent rooms to certain people he “profiled” as likely drug users.

You just can’t run a business that serves the public unless you have tremendous resources these days.

2 marco73 01.28.13 at 10:20 am

More drugs are smuggled through airports than could ever possibly be used in one little roadside motel.
Why doesn’t the US Attorney try to get Logan as a forfeiture?

3 No Name Guy 01.28.13 at 4:17 pm

Macro: Because they’d be stealing from themselves. Most, if not all, large airports are owned by Governments or Government entities.

4 TonyLurker 01.29.13 at 9:51 am

What’s really outrageous about this case is that some of the examples of drug activity offered by the government involved either the police or their informants calling drug dealers and having the drugs delivered to their hotel room. for example, from the decision:

The second incident on which the Government relies occurred almost three years later, on July 17, 1997. A confidential informant who was staying at the Motel contacted the police and informed on his/her heroin suppliers, who could be contacted by way of a beeper with a code for a room number. The suppliers were not residing at the Motel. The police conducted an investigation, including surveillance, and arrested an unidentified alleged customer in the parking lot of the Motel, who was transported away from the Property in a cruiser. The outcome of this arrest is unknown. The next day the police rented room 248 and ordered drugs from the suppliers. The suppliers, Benito Castro-Eusebio and Cedano Celines, were arrested after they delivered drugs and had left the Property.

can you imagine the precedent this would set? If you want to grab a property, just call up a drug dealer, have them deliver to the property, and make your arrest. Do this a few times and you have a “pattern of drug crime” at the property.

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