In light of the recent hearing on mandatory asset freezing and restitution, Congress should look at the on-going controversy over an asset forfeiture in Lima Ohio. Luther and Meredith Ricks were victims of a break-in at their home by two burglars. Luther was able to kill one of the men and called police. The police, however, were quickly drawn to a small amount of marijuana in the house: used by Luther to deal with pain from arthritis and a recent surgery. The result? The feds (who were not involved in the case) have seized $400,000 of their life savings.
Longtime employees of the Ohio Steel Foundry, the Ricks kept the money in the house because they do not trust banks. The break-in occurred in June 2007 and both Luther and his son were attacked.
Notably, there was no charge for the pot and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were not involved. However, when the assets were identified in the house, the FBI immediately claimed the money.
Given my earlier testimony here, I thought the case could be instructive for those who are unconcerned about mandatory asset freezing orders. There is now a powerful financial incentive for the government and others to claim assets. The new law would turn this problem into a virtual feeding frenzy since not just the government but citizens could make claims on the assets. The government could seek to freeze assets before any charge or trial.
For a discussion of the case, click here.