Yes, I’m afraid you did read that headline correctly. Yesterday eight Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputies served a search warrant on the offices of Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, Big Daddy’s Compassion Club and Big Daddy’s Hydro shop in Oak Park, MI. No arrests were made. However, the gun-toting cowboys did take something with them when they left: $20,000 in cash. This cash was seized from receipts, registers and even the wallets of the employees on site. Let me repeat that last one: THE COPS TOOK THE MONEY FROM EVERYONE’S WALLETS. This is a plain old-fashioned stick-up. Witnesses say that one of the officers was even wearing a mask! So what happens to this money? If no one was arrested, why do they get to take cash?
The answer of course is civil asset forfeiture. If you’ve never heard the term before, here’s a catch-up post from earlier, but basically if the government suspects your property was involved in a crime or your money came from a crime, they can seize it. The burden of proof then lies on your shoulders because property doesn’t have the same rights as a person. Nevermind that it’s ridiculous to charge property with a crime. So we end up with cases like “The United States v. 1999 Ford Taurus” and such silliness.
Now about the money. In all states it’s different depending on state laws where the money goes, but almost everywhere cops can use a federal loophole to keep most of the spoils. In our case from Michigan yesterday, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office gets to keep 80% of the assets seized and the other 20% will go to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office. Consider it a “robbery legitimization fee.”
So basically Oakland County’s government has taken to wild west tactics to fund their law enforcement branch. Their $20,000 haul means $16,000 for the Sheriff and $4,000 for the prosecutor. Not bad for a Wednesday.