Oklahoma Deputies Steal $141,500 From Men Trying To Buy Land, Manage To Make $10,000 Of It Disappear

from the a-little-due-diligence-goes-a-long-way dept

Some regular, everyday highway robbery committed by an Oklahoma law enforcement agency is getting some airtime and additional scrutiny, which certainly isn’t going to be beneficial to the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office. (via Reason)

Two businessmen from New Mexico were on their way to buy some land in Oklahoma when they were stopped by sheriff’s deputies. After asking for the driver’s license, the deputies began badgering the driver, Thai Nang, about the presumed existence of cash, hopefully lots of it.

“They keep asking like do I have cash, do we have cash, many times, many times. I say, ‘Of course we have cash,’” Nang told News 4.

He said that’s when the deputy started searching their car and found the $141,500 in cash that they were going to use for the land purchase.

“That’s our savings money to buy the agriculture land and he told me, ‘I’m 300% sure that’s illegal money,’” Nang said.

The deputies seized the cash and took Nang and his partner back to the Office for questioning. Several hours later they were released. But not their money. The $141,500 was confiscated by the Sheriff’s Office, which obviously plans to forfeit it as illegally-obtained.

On the way to the forfeiture proceedings, the Sheriff’s Office made nearly $10,000 of it disappear.

According to the court documents, only $131,502 was seized, which is $10,000 short.

The document also alleges that the money was “furnished, or intended to be furnished, in exchange for a controlled dangerous substance,” “traceable to such an exchange” or was “intended to be used to facilitate a violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.”

Those allegations are going to be pretty difficult to prove. And even the minimal level of proof needed to successfully steal property from drivers is unlikely to be met here. Reporters from KFOR did what the Sheriff’s Office refused to do. They went out and attempted to verify Nang’s claim the money was being used to purchase property. They were successful.

A Caddo County property owner is standing behind two New Mexico businessmen who told KFOR they were attempting to purchase land with thousands of dollars that was seized from them by the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office.

“Why didn’t they just send somebody out to ask me like you’re asking me? I’d have told them the same thing,” a Caddo County property owner, who wanted to keep his identity private, told News 4.

Not only did the property owner verify the story, he also provided documentation of the planned purchase, including the bill of sale. He also verified that dollar amount ($141,500) was accurate, stating that the land was being sold for $100,000 plus “$30-40,000 to upgrade the electricity and the water.”

Presumably these statements have already been converted into a notarized affidavit that Nang’s lawyer will be bringing to court. Presumably the Sheriff’s Office will be bringing nothing more than its speculative fiction about the money’s innate illegality. And while it will be satisfying to see these badge-wearing crooks get their ill-gotten gains stripped away in a court of law, I imagine it would have been much more satisfying to Nang and his partner to be in possession of the property they were purchasing and putting their time and energy into that, rather than spending money righting a wrong that never should have been perpetrated on them.

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Comments on “Oklahoma Deputies Steal $141,500 From Men Trying To Buy Land, Manage To Make $10,000 Of It Disappear”

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42 Comments
TaboTokasays:

Sucks we have to do this...

In this day and age of rampant armed thieves freely roaming the countryside, a wise course of action if you’re transporting more than a few hundred dollars is to convert it to a cashier’s check.

Even if the armed thieves get their hands on the check, they can’t do anything with it, except maybe try to commit some felonies by trying to cash it. More importantly, your funds are safe. If the armed thieves steal your check, though, it can take a few months to get the cash back if the bank is jerky.

Either way, don’t carry more than you can afford to lose to the rampant armed thieves freely roaming the countryside.

That One Guysays:

Re: 'We're the police, laws don't apply to us.'

Even if the armed thieves get their hands on the check, they can’t do anything with it, except maybe try to commit some felonies by trying to cash it.

Good if disturbing advice given why it’s good advice but I don’t imagine the thought of committing a few felonies would cause even a moment of hesitation for american police.

That One Guysays:

Highway robbery isn't gone it's just been made official

As always stupid criminals go to jail while smart criminals go into law enforcement and don’t have to worry about that possibility.

The victims here should not only get every cent back that amount should be padded out by an additional 10% of the original amount per day that the money isn’t returned on top of their legal fees to get the stolen money back, and most importantly every last penny of that amount should be personally paid back by the robbers in question, with the amount split equally between them and the department head to provide some incentive to not allow such robberies in the future.

So long as police can rob people with impunity like this, and so long as even when they get caught someone else has to pay the check they will continue to do so because it’s still wildly profitable and has zero downsides.

Bergmansays:

Re: Re: Highway robbery isn't gone it's just been made official

Personally, I?m waiting for the day when someone robs a convenience store, attempts to file an asset forfeiture claim with the local court clerk (successfully or not doesn?t matter) and then when caught, uses that asset forfeiture claim as a defense at trial, to prove they didn?t commit armed robbery.

After all, about half the states have actual statutes granting police powers to all citizens, and most of the rest do so by common law. Only one state forbids private citizens from exercising police powers at all.

Bill Silversteinsays:

I don't see why they don't bring a 42 USC 1983 action.

Even if they get the money back, I don’t see why people subject to these seizures bring an action under 42 USC 1983. Under this section, you can get punitive damages.

The reports I see is that the police departments have to return the money eventually, so if they lose, there is no real harm. If they are sued for this, they give the money back, then have to pay interest and punitive damages. Then maybe they would have to think about it as when they take the $5,000 from somebody, they may end up having to pay plaintiff’s attorney fees and punitive damages.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: I don't see why they don't bring a 42 USC 1983 action.

"I don’t see why people subject to these seizures bring an action under 42 USC 1983. Under this section, you can get punitive damages."

Burden of proof required against officers on duty being a practical impossibility maybe? I mean if you have to prove absence of good faith in a wrongful seizure that’s going to be a tough job to establish.

My guess is that most states have provided their law enforcement with practical immunity against any and all forms of legal censure, if for no other reason than face-saving.

bhull242says:

Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't see why they don't bring a 42 USC 1983 action.

Yeah, ?good faith? would be a tremendous bar to recovery here. It?s very difficult to prove bad faith, similar to how it is difficult to prove actual malice. Since it?s about subjective knowledge and intent of the other party, you?re pretty much not going to have any direct evidence, and you?ll need a fair amount of evidence to prove bad faith.

Also, I?m not sure what the wording of the statute used to justify the forfeiture is, but it might be worded in a way such that the officer was actually in full compliance with that statute when they seized the cash. The bar to justify a seizure (especially with regards to civil forfeiture) is significantly lower than with pressing charges and especially compared to prevailing in the ensuing forfeiture proceedings, not to mention prevailing in a civil suit or criminal trial.

Plus, I should note that the forfeiture proceedings would likely need to get resolved first, before any other action?like suing the city or officer(s) involved?gets taken. It?s like how, if evidence gets seized illegally, and person gets immediately arrested and charged based on that evidence, that person generally can?t (or at least doesn?t) sue over a 4th Amendment violation until after they move to suppress the illegally-seized evidence in the criminal trial and that motion is ruled on is successful (either in the lower court or on appeal), and usually after either the charges get dropped or the trial ends?either in a conviction, acquittal, dismissal by the judge, executive pardon, or mistrial. In this case, it would appear that the ?charges? in the civil forfeiture case have only been filed recently, so barring some extraordinary circumstances (like intentional (and unreasonable) or excessive delay in the proceedings by the government or the court), they probably won?t sue for violations of 42 USC ?1983 (or anything else, for that matter) until after the civil forfeiture proceedings are complete. Once that?s all settled, though, it?s possible that they will sue over the seizure, though since prevailing may not be particularly likely, it?s not implausible that they would not do so.

Bergmansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't see why they don't bring a 42 USC 1983 actio

Plus, even if the court agrees the seizure violated your rights, under current US supreme court case law, unless a previous court in the same circuit had already ruled the same way on identical circumstances, the case would be dismissed because cops have qualified immunity.

Courts take the view that it does not matter what a plain English reading of a law says, no law is clearly established until a judge rules on it, and police cannot be expected to know what the law is until it is clearly established.

This is why I?ve been saying for years that lawsuits against cops are a rigged game. But any rights violation you could sue for and win under Title 42, Section 1983 is also a federal crime – as in handcuffs, cell and prison time – under Title 18, Sections 241 & 242. And according to the US Supreme Court, a federal citizens arrest is lawful in any state that a state law citizen?s arrest would be, under the same circumstances (US v. Di Re (1948)). A 100% binding citizen?s arrest can be made with words alone.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't see why they don't bring a 42 USC 1983 a

And according to the US Supreme Court, a federal citizens arrest is lawful in any state that a state law citizen?s arrest would be, under the same circumstances (US v. Di Re (1948)). A 100% binding citizen?s arrest can be made with words alone.

Yeah, I’d definitely make sure to write/update your will and inform your next of kin before trying that, I suspect that a corrupt cop(but I repeat myself) would react rather ‘poorly’ to one of the peons trying to arrest them.

Bergmansays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't see why they don't bring a 42 USC 19

True, but here’s the thing: It’s just as legal for you or I to use force on a cop who resists arrest as it is for a cop to do so to anyone.

Initiating an arrest and knowing the guy might react badly means you have an advantage in reaction speed.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't see why they don't bring a 42 US

"Initiating an arrest and knowing the guy might react badly means you have an advantage in reaction speed."

…which means you’re on an all-points as a cop killer and any case you might want to make that it was warranted will drown in a hail of rifle rounds.

You can’t win. You can take down a single cop who refuses to get arrested, sure. After that it will be you against the police force of the city with a shoot-to-kill order issued.

In the best of all possible cases you pull a Bruce Lee move out of your pocket and drag the cop to the police precinct loudly shouting you’ve made a citizen’s arrest every step of the way. You will be beaten to death or shot in the lobby by twenty other officers who don’t give a shit about the legal situation when a peon comes dragging an officer to be jailed.

Anonymoussays:

road pirates

CAF has been so used and abused that the theft of innocent victims cash has far surpassed actual criminal property crimes! the blue lies mafia takes in BILLIONS every year! they even have new ways to steal your hard earned cash by using card readers and taking off of credit cards, bank accounts and debit cards.
it doesn’t matter if you have receipt explaining where the money came from! they will still steal it! then you have those that get the hardest! poor people that just cashed there check and need it for food, rent, or basic needs. and that amount is usually less then $500!
then there’s the problem of getting your money back. with too many hoops to jump through and the cost it takes to get your money back. it just isn’t worth it for small amounts. and then even when you win your hard earned money back they will take a percentage out for themselves. the old "we will give you your money back if we can keep 10%" routine! or using a lawyer you still don’t get your full amount back.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Call it what it is; The US "police force" are in many states and counties a gang now. One which is running a successful racket extorting the municipality for "protection".

Sure, corruption and malfeasance in law enforcement exists in all countries, just…not at this scale in any other G20 member nation. And yes, I include China and Russia in that.

OldMugwumpsays:

But DRUUUUUGS!

You dummies, DRUGS ARE BAD!

Only by turning the police into criminals can we stop DRUG ABUSERS from STEALING to get the DRUG MONEY they need for the BLACK MARKET!!!

STEALING is BAD!! We must maintain the black market in drugs so that cartels can stay rich and afford all those expensive weapons!! Otherwise ADDICTS!!!!!

You dummies are dumb!

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: But DRUUUUUGS!

Well, the /s is necessary, but not really because the people reading this are dummies, but because you just more or less quoted Bill Barr, a few others to hold the DoJ chief seat, a number of republican politicians and every police union representative, ever.

I’m afraid the talking points of the "tough on crime" brigade go even further than what your intended sarcasm did. The worst defense I’ve heard (lamentably often) would be on the lines of; "So? It’s a good thing bad things happen to bad people. Law enforcement doesn’t happen without getting your hands dirty! You on the side of criminals or what?"

Bergmansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: But DRUUUUUGS!

What astounds me about people like that is they apparently don’t realize that when police commit crimes to catch a criminal, they aren’t reducing the number of criminals on the streets or the number of unsolved crimes in any way.

Given that almost all of the crimes police commit are felonies due to their possession of a firearm, breaking the law to make a misdemeanor arrest results in a net increase in crime!

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: But DRUUUUUGS!

"…they apparently don’t realize that when police commit crimes to catch a criminal, they aren’t reducing the number of criminals on the streets…"

A surprising amount of adults who ought to know better simply reckon that the police being "tough on crime" means that what they do isn’t criminal. And that no one cares about what happens to criminals, anyhow, so only a bleeding-heart liberal would be pitying the "criminals" being targeted.

This disease is by far more widespread in the US than elsewhere. Ironically the morons chanting "Stop the steal" in raging mistrust of government are somehow A-OK with the actual police of the "police state" they keep fearing.

bhull242says:

Quite frankly, I don?t even see how this is constitutional. There?s no warrant, there?s no exigent circumstances (at least with regards to seizures of anything that isn?t itself illegal), they don?t arrest the individual(s) (so it?s not a search and/or seizure incident to arrest), they don?t have probable cause (or a reasonable belief that they do have probable cause to trigger good faith), there?s no perceived or alleged threat or danger to anyone, they don?t even have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred, they aren?t planning on using it as evidence in any legal proceedings against or arrest of any person(s) (so no concern about disposal of evidence), and?in fact?there is no even alleged intention of pursuing any legal action against or arrest of any person(s) that is even remotely connected to the seized property. Even the motor vehicle exception only applies to search for and seizure of evidence in a motor vehicle, not simply something relating to an alleged crime or unlawful act.

Then there?re the forfeiture proceedings themselves. I don?t care that property is not a person and so doesn?t have legal rights. If that property was found in the possession of a person, that person presumably has a property interest in that property, so their legal rights can be presumed to be impacted by the seizure. And people most certainly do have legal rights. Furthermore, legal proceedings still require an adversarial process (a case or controversy) unless the defendant pleads ?guilty? or ?no contest? or (in a civil case) stipulates to a ruling,

Plus, if they think that the money is going to be used to buy drugs, then that means that, if they just make sure someone follows the car, they should be able to find the drug dealer(s) that the person is going to buy from, at which point not only can they seize the cash but also arrest the driver, passenger, and dealer(s) and seize the drugs to be sold. That sounds like that?d be a much better deal for the community. They?d also have much stronger evidence to support seizure of the cash as well as its forfeiture since they could show that the cash was seized because of its relation to illegal activity.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re:

"Quite frankly, I don?t even see how this is constitutional."

It probably isn’t. Civil Forfeiture all hinges, as I understand it, on the premise that the object itself is suspected of assisting crime.

So it’s basically the case of an officer of the law having due suspicion (a hunch) and hauling the perpetrator (money, goods, vehicles, a margarita machine or a Playstation) into the station for "questioning".

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

[Addendum]

It has to be said that SCOTUS upholding civil forfeiture either points to a glaring need to amend the constitution or to SCOTUS making a very unfortunate call. My guess it’s the former, because although we can say a lot about SCOTUS judges they aren’t normally unschooled in the document they’re supposed to defend.

Bergmansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

A very common myth about the Constitution is that it only protects the rights of citizens – this is where the past rulings that property has no rights, or that foreigners can’t have them. It’s the basis of the infamous Dred Scott decision.

But that’s not what the Constitution actually says, if you actually read it. The Constitution doesn’t grant anyone any rights whatsoever, and never has. Instead, it protects rights everyone already had before it was written, by prohibiting the government from ever doing certain things to ANYONE.

It wouldn’t matter if property has no rights if a court came at a case from that angle – property may have no rights, but property has an owner, and that owner has the right to not have their property taken without due process of law. Due process that, when it involves the rights of a person, has very well-established meanings.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

"It wouldn’t matter if property has no rights if a court came at a case from that angle…"

Sadly, SCOTUS saw fit not to come at it from that angle, however. And I’m guessing that precedent will stand because that court does not like to go back and say "Ooops, we made a boo-boo"*.

Davidsays:

You don't read the news, do you?

Quite frankly, I don?t even see how this is constitutional.

There is a 6-3 majority of conservative judges in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court judges are the only ones whose declaration of unconstitutionality actually accounts for anything, and they get to pick their workload.

Stopping organised crime by police officers is not really a conservative priority.

Anonymoussays:

You know, I gotta say, this is really disappointing. Every night I turn on the TV and it seems like one out every five channel has a cop show. I’ve watched a lot of cop shows, and hardly ever is there even a hint of corruption or abuse of authority by the cops. Sure, the cops beat up a suspect now and then, but usually those suspects were pretty bad guys and deserved it. Now, I come here to techdirt, and I read all these storied of thieving and lying cop… what’s the deal?

Did the US do such a good job of getting rid of organized crime, that the cops have now taken over its place? There aren’t many shows or movies about the mafia and organized crime these days. I read the Yakuza is still going strong in Japan, and there’re the drug gangs in Mexico, but not much in the US. Where are all the bad guys in the US? Did they go legit, into Wall Street or something? Or did they become cops?

unforgivensays:

Sherriff West, Canadian County Jan 6, 2021

Anybody remember the march on the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021? The march in support of an attempted coup? Ramped up by rhetoric from then President Trump? How many law enforcement officers from around the country took part in that march, which ended with their fellow officers being murdered by demonstrators? Well Sheriff West was part of that march supporting the attempted coup. So is there any shred of doubt as to the what kind of department the Canadian County Sherriff’s department is? Seems like Canadian County simply puts the criminals in uniform in order to remove the criminals from the street…..

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