Kari Travis of Carolina Journal reports on action in the U.S. House of Representatives that would curb the procedure known as “civil asset forfeiture.”
Civil forfeiture allows law enforcers to seize property from a person suspected of a crime, even if he or she hasn’t been convicted or even charged. Such practices are necessary when fighting drug crimes, Sessions said.
North Carolina bans the practice, requiring a criminal conviction before any property is taken. A federal loophole allows police to dodge the rules.
Such sidesteps are possible under the “equitable sharing program,” a practice letting state law enforcers team up with the feds to bypass state laws.
And what can happen when the power to seize assets is used?
In 2014, a North Carolina civil asset forfeiture case caught the national spotlight when Lyndon McLellan, a Fairmont store owner, was stripped of his life’s savings.
Federal officials accused McLellan of fraud and drained his bank account of $107,702.66.
McLellan and his accountant disproved the fraud accusations. They traced the problem to a mistake made during a deposit at the local bank.
McLellan, who labored for 13 years to earn the money, waited one year for the IRS to return it. The agency tried to avoid paying his $20,000 in legal fees, but a district court forced the government to write another check.
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