Federal Judge Orders Justice Department To Return Over Million Dollars Taken At Traffic Stop By Nebraska Officers

220px-Joseph_F._Bataillon_District_JudgeWe have previously discussed how police are increasingly doing drug stops on pretextual grounds and seizing any money that a driver cannot explain to their satisfaction. It is called “policing for profit” and departments are able to keep much of seized money in these stops. The federal government is being forced to return over $1 million to Tara Mishra, 33, of California, who was taking her life savings as a stripper to buy her own business. That was before it was seized by Nebraska state troopers who declared that it must be drug proceeds. Even though no drugs were found and there was no basis for concluding the cash was from drug proceeds, the matter became a federal case and the Obama Administration fought her to deny her even a hearing for demanding the money back. Now U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon has ordered them to give back the money. However, this is not considered theft because police officers took the money at a traffic stop. The case is United States of America v. $1,074,900.00 in United States Currency, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11544 (D. Neb. 2013).


Mishra has been a stripper since 18 and wanted to make something better for her life. She gave the money to friends Rajesh and Marina Dheri, of Montville, N.J., to buy a nightclub with them in New Jersey — a business that she would own half of. The Dheris were in a rental car when Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Ryan Hayes pulled them over for speeding. This is an easy pretext for stops since most people travel above the speed limit on highways. As is often the case, the stop turned into a drug search and the officers asked if they could search the car. The couple consent and they found the money.

The camera system inside Trooper Hayes’ cruiser captured the Dheris’ converation as Trooper Hayes searched the vehicle. Id. ¶ 13. Mrs. Dheri asked Mr. Dheri, “What are you saying it is? Am I going to say I knew what it was or not?” Id. Mr. Dheri responded, “He asked me if there was money in the car and I said no.” Id. Mrs. Dheri later stated, “He’s going to ask you-you answer. It is not ours, it is our friends’.” Id. The Dheris also discussed the total amount of the money and stated the money was “about a million.” Id.

Trooper Hayes discovered three pieces of luggage in the vehicle’s rear cargo area. Id. ¶ 10. There were two duffel bags and one backpack. Id. In one duffel bag, there were several dryer sheets in the bottom of the bag and a drawstring bag that held three, large Ziplock baggies, each of which contained several rubber-banded bundles of money. Id. The second duffel bag contained empty Ziplock baggies and a drawstring bag that held several rubber-banded bundles of money. Id.

No drugs were found. However, a dog found traces of drugs on the money — and extremely common fact about currency in our society. A study in England founds that, like the United States, paper currency is saturated with drug residue and it is not simply money from drug areas or transactions.

I can understand the suspicion of the officer but I am confused why the Justice Department litigated the matter for years when there appears no connection to drug transactions.

The Justice Department continued to insist that it could keep the money but the court ruled “The government failed to show a substantial connection between drugs and the money” and added that “The court finds the Mishras’ story is credible.”

Bataillon ordered that Mishra receive cash or a check in the value of $1,074,000 with interest.

I am unclear of why the Justice Department gets away with dragging on such litigation without a factual basis for the allegation of a drug transaction. They put this woman through years of litigation and, even under the exceptionally generous rules and standards for seizure, could not make a case for treating the money as drug money.

Source:

ABC

48 thoughts on “Federal Judge Orders Justice Department To Return Over Million Dollars Taken At Traffic Stop By Nebraska Officers

  1. I can understand the suspicion of the officer but I am confused why the Justice Department litigated the matter for years when there appears no connection to drug transactions.

    The Justice Department continued to insist that it could keep the money but the court ruled “The government failed to show a substantial connection between drugs and the money” and added that “The court finds the Mishras’ story is credible.”

    Bataillon ordered that Mishra receive cash or a check in the value of $1,074,000 with interest.

    I am unclear of why the Justice Department gets away with dragging on such litigation without a factual basis for the allegation of a drug transaction. They put this woman through years of litigation and, even under the exceptionally generous rules and standards for seizure, could not make a case for treating the money as drug money.
    ********************************************************************

    Micheal Here’s a fun test… how many references can you find to “dragging through litagation”, “put this woman through years of litigation”, and “JD litigated the matter for years”?

    • Fair enough. Stipulated. Bad, crap writing. (Though you only seem to be exercised about this point. Is it all crap? the entire piece? Or even the basic exposure of the incident?)

      Its seems a small point to be upset about the distinction of “Years” vs 1 year and a bit. and miss what seems to me to be the salient point : that it happened at all.

      Not just the laws, but the underlying corruption and “war on the citizen” nature of the laws.

      What , from your POV, am I missing?

      Are you just upset with JT for misstating a point of fact? Once that is corrected, then what do you think?

  2. Michael Part Two of Test

    “The Justice Department continued to insist that it could keep the money”

    Using your reading skills – who does “it” refer to in the above Turley quote?
    (Please note NEBRASKA has not appeared once in those paragraphs.)
    *****************************************************************************
    As I continue this excercise, I grow even more disgusted.

  3. Michael

    Bottom line. Words mean something. What is Turley doing here?

    I don’t want to talk about the phu*king law. We agree about it, the dogs, and lousey cops.

    I want to talk about a piece of crap writing.

  4. Continuing, and in response to yours:

    > Micheal Here’s a fun test… how many references can you find to “dragging through litagation”, “put this woman through years of litigation”, and “JD litigated the matter for years”?

    You have them accounted for more or less. What is the point? What does it matter if there is one, or a hundred?
    Hard to tell what your argument is.

    > Bottom line. Words mean something. What is Turley doing here?

    I don’t know. What do you think he is doing? Do you think he was slipping a fast one by us? Do you think it matters as to the main point of the piece? Does it actually change the point of the post? And if yes, then please explicate. Because as it comes across now it seems you’re a bit pissed off about a pretty minor point.

    Words do indeed mean something. And so do ideas and complex thoughts. Shouldn’t confuse one with the other.

    > I don’t want to talk about the phu*king law. We agree about it, the dogs, and lousey cops.

    What is the point then if we are not talking about exposing an example of government abuse in the particular instance and then, as I take it, as an indication of the state of the state – per my posts above and in other places.

    > I want to talk about a piece of crap writing.

    So do it. Make a point more essential than “he said years when it was only 15months”

  5. Michael

    I believe this piece was deliberatly written to embarrass the DOJ and the Obama administration – an administration that he holds in great contempt. Turley’s very first words and the headline of the piece is a piece of crap.

    How many times do I have to say it? Justice did not have the money. The Judge did not make Justice return the $1M. Nebraska had to turn over the money. Turley makes that mistake TWICE. (See test 2 {which you left unanswered}). TWICE is not a brain fart. TWICE is deliberate.

    There were THREE occasions of moaning about the YEARS it was taking to get the money returned. That is not a brain fart. That is deliberate.

    Turley left out two other court decisions in this case which also delayed the decision. One would think those filings would be important to a reknown professor of law. But not so important for someone who was writing a hit piece.

    This is a VERY good court decision. But to me, the much more important issue is that Turley has written a sloppy, deliberately misleading, uncorrected, piece of crap for political purposes. There is much discussion in these parts about integrity and principle. Turley has some ‘splaiin’ to do.

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