What’s scarier than asset forfeiture operations?

by Walter Olson on July 24, 2013

Asset forfeiture operations with private helpers working on contingency fee:

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.

District Attorney Jason Hicks, whose territory includes four Oklahoma counties, hired Guthrie-based Desert Snow LLC with a deal to pay it between 10 and 25 percent of seizure proceeds, depending on whether its “trainers” were present or only department officers. “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.” Now criminal charges arising from the stops are being ended, an investigation has been launched into allegedly missing funds, and “some” money is being returned to motorists. A judge said he was “shocked”

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….

Forfeited funds are split among the law enforcement agencies of the task force after Desert Snow is paid.

It bears repeating again and again: contingency fees and law enforcement authority don’t mix. Not ethically, anyway. (via Ed Brayton; more from Eapen Thampy, Americans for Forfeiture Reform).

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08.02.13 at 12:16 am

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1 Jay 07.29.13 at 11:58 am

FWIW, I live in Guthrie and had never heard of Desert Snow. Seems it’s run by a former California Highway Patrol officer.

2 Heartland Patriot 08.01.13 at 3:17 pm

That is about one of the most crooked things I’ve heard of in a while, minus the messes from the current presidential administration, of course.

3 AMcA 08.01.13 at 6:22 pm

Wow, I sure hope the DA’s prosecutorial immunity fails here. He deserves a long rest in prison.

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