Topeka Capital-Journal: Accusations of asset seizure pattern by Kansas Highway Patrol raise concerns

January 3, 2017

As reported by the Topeka Capital Journal:  On March 24, Salvador Franco, of Las Vegas, pulled into an Ellsworth County rest stop. What began as a pause during a long drive has turned into a months-long battle after a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper approached him, searched his car and seized more than $32,000 in cash.

No criminal charges have been filed against Franco, but he hasn’t gotten the money back.

In Kansas, a person’s property or money can be seized by law enforcement if it’s suspected of having a connection to criminal activity. And an individual doesn’t have to be charged or convicted of a crime.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is getting away with “highway robbery” through its asset forfeiture program, according to Franco’s lawyer, David Smith, of Alexandria, Va.

Smith was hired to represent Franco by the DKT Liberty Project, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C.

Program director AC Bushnell said the organization works to push back against government overreach.

“There does seem to be a pattern of misconduct,” Bushnell said of the three incidents. He said it appears that law enforcement officers are doing whatever they want and coming up with a pretext for the stop.

“It looks like they’re just looking for money,” he said.

In addition to returning the cash to the motorists, Bushnell said civil forfeiture laws need to be changed. People at least need to be charged with a crime, he said.

Read the full article here.