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What happened to due process in Dixon?

Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell has been accused of stealing from the city of Dixon but hasn’t had her day in court, yet the federal government is auctioning off horses and attempting to sell other property without due process?

The Rockford Register Star articles still use the terms “alleged and allegations” when referring to the $53M stolen over a 20 year period and the items allegedly purchased with said money.

Excerpt:

Agents have executed search-and-seizure warrants at various locations, including Crundwell’s home, office, and farms in Dixon and Beloit, Wis. They seized the contents of two bank accounts she controlled. Among other items seized were seven trucks and trailers, three pickup trucks, a $2.1 million motor home and a Ford Thunderbird convertible, all of which were allegedly purchased with illegal proceeds.

It’s understandable that assets were seized and the comptroller was instructed not to sell any of the items in question, but now the government is selling them before a verdict has been reached by a jury of her peers in the criminal case!

Excerpt:

Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney’s ruled proceeds from the sale of the property will be used to pay for the horses’ upkeep since Crundwell’s April 17 arrest. Other parties, including those with liens on the horses, are filing claims with the court to recover their funds as well.

Civil forfeiture in connection with the criminal case was the reason given that the alleged stolen property was confiscated and ordered to be sold. However, Ms Crundwell hasn’t been found guilty in criminal court at this time.

Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence in this case?

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7 Comments

  1. The government has been doing the same thing for years to accused drug dealers. Where has your outrage been hiding all this time?

    • Ted Biondo

      Jim Y. – Do you mean that the government takes the property before the indictment and trial verdict or after they are convicted and on appeal?

  2. Jim Johnson

    Ted – had you taken the time to do a little more research before writing your editorial you would have learned the defendant has agreed to the sale of her assets (perhaps it is a signal of her guilt). Where do you suppose she would get the money to pay for the care of the horses that is costing the Government $200,000 a month, the monthly payment for the luxury motor coach, and the mortgages on her real estate? It is rather surprising your publisher allowed your editorial to go to print with you missing such an important point.

    • Ted Biondo

      Jim, it’s a blog, not an editorial. The RRS usually only prints my local financial acumen in the printed version of the paper. This is a blog primarily for discussion. But I’m sure the Dixon comptroller would have simply used operating funds to pay the $200,000 a month as she did for 20 years.

      Even at $53,000,000 for 20 years or 240 months = $220,000 per month, so obviously the business was making more money to buy all the items and the horses, plus operating costs, etc. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Ted — Most states have laws that allow the police to auction off property seized during drug raids (and property that was taken during traffic stops that subsequently turn up drugs) PRIOR to conviction. The states that have those laws based them on federal statutes that were written to help in the fight against organized crime.

  4. Unfortunately, those same laws take property from the innocent, too. For example:

    – Imagine being stopped on the interstate and put into handcuffs because police think you’re carrying too much cash. Even worse, imagine them keeping the money you’ve been saving for months.

    Police insist most of the cash they take is drug money.

    But NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered some innocent victims of a practice that critics call “policing for profit.”

    Our NewsChannel 5 investigation found case-after-case where other innocent people also had their cash taken by people who are supposed to be enforcing the law.

    Shelby County: Memphis police took $32,000 from an African-American woman — money she’d been saving for a down payment on a building that she planned to buy the next day. A state administrative law judge later called it “highly inappropriate … to deprive a citizen of her property based simply on such speculation and conjecture.”

    Hamilton County: A sheriff’s deputy seized $28,000 from a Vietnamese businessman — money that the man had borrowed to buy a restaurant. A judge later ruled that was “not the proceeds from the sale of drugs.”

    Bradley County: Police took $20,000 from an African-American man who had won the Georgia Lottery. The man said he had been to Knoxville trying to buy a car. A judge later ruled “there was no proof that Claimant had any connection with illegal drugs.”

    In another case, police seized $31,000 from a Korean businessman who had collected the money as repayment of a loan. A judge later ruled that “there was no ‘reasonable suspicion’ or ‘probable cause’ to make the traffic stop.”

    Also, in Bradley County, a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer took $135,504 from an African-American businessman who had been using cash to buy flooded properties in New Orleans. The money was returned after the state failed to pursue the case.

    Monroe County: Police confiscated $17,300 from three Hispanic men. They were about to wire the money to family in El Salvador to buy a house. A judge later ruled that “there was absolutely no proof that Claimants sold any drugs.”

    Sullivan County: An interdiction team took $27,500 from a Hispanic man. He was transporting the money his mother had saved to Virginia, where she’d moved from California. The state later returned the money to the woman.

    Gary Blackburn said those cases show there’s something wrong with a system that has officers policing for profit.

    “That badge is a testament that you are part of the system to protect people, it is part of the law,” he added. “That badge is not a commission to seize money.”

    http://www.newschannel5.com/story/14849726/policing-for-profit-takes-cash-from-innocent-victims

    It takes some people years to get their property back.

  5. You should read about all of the law enforcement abuses which Radley Balko documents. He is a libertarian, not a lefty:
    http://www.theagitator.com/

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