As recently reported by RawStory, a waitress in Moorehead, Minnesota, is suing the local police department after they seized $12,000 from her under the guise that it was “drug money.”
From the article:
Stacy Knutson was working at the Moorhead Fryn’ Pan restaurant when she discovered a wad of cash wrapped in rubber bands in a to-go box.
“No, I am good; you keep it,” Knutson claimed the customer told her when she tried to return the money.
At first, police told her she could have the money back if no one claimed it 60 days. After 90 days, they still refused to return the money, telling her it was being held as “drug money.” > [… because a] drug-sniffing dog determined [the money] had a strong odor of marijuana.
Now, think about this for a second: this article on snopes.com confirms as true the urban legend that 80% of our money is contaminated with some small amount of cocaine. That, by itself, should cast into suspicion any attempt to seize money based on it being “drug money.”
As stated elsewhere in the story, Stacy said she “feels like [she] did the right thing by calling the Moorhead Police” despite the fact she “desperately needed the money.” I have to question whatever wisdom there was behind trusting the local police department with $12,000, which should come as no surprise to my regular readers. This is yet another way that drug prohibition has ruined our sense of justice and our society: it is un-American (specifically, a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution) to just take someone’s property.
What I think happened here is that the Moorhead PD realized they were strapped for cash just like Stacy, and that combined with a case of “heavy badge-itis” led someone to say “let’s just say a drug dog sniffed this and smelled pot on it, so we can keep it.” It’s entirely possible the money was even intentionally contaminated with marijuana prior to letting the drug dog sniff it.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Stacy’s lawsuit prevails after something very similar to this is revealed in court. If so, I hope some heads roll in Moorhead, as those in government (particularly law enforcement) can’t be allowed to get away with this in any decent society.