A federal judge had ordered Nebraska police to return $1 million to an exotic dancer after confiscating it during a traffic stop, ABC News reports.
Nebraska state troopers got the cash in March 2012, when they pulled over Tara Mishra’s two friends while they were driving to Chicago with the money to buy a nightclub that she’d own half of.
Mishra, 33, began dancing at 18, and had been saving since then to start her own business, Judge Joseph Bataillon wrote in his opinion.
When her friends agreed to let the state troopers search her car, the police suspected drug involvement. Mishra had bundled the money into $10,000 increments and put them in plastic bags in the trunk. Police seized the cash and took her friends into custody.
The police didn’t find any evidence of drug activity in the vehicle, and K-9 analysis found only trace elements of illegal drugs on the cash, ABC News reported.
In his opinion, Bataillon found that “the government failed to show a substantial connection between drugs and the money.” He ruled that Mishra receive all of her $1,074,000 — with interest.
George Washington University law professor Jonathon Turley’s most recent blog entry claims that behaviour like this falls in line with an increasing trend called “policing for profit.” Authorities will conduct a drug stop on “pretextual grounds,” like speeding, and then confiscate any money the driver can’t explain to their satisfaction.
According to the Institute for Justice, police can legally use the money, or profits from selling any other confiscated property, to fund their agencies. So-called civil forfeiture doesn’t require the police to charge owners before confiscating their property.
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