Judge rules police were justified in seizing cash, new truck from NFL player

The American Civil Liberties Union calls it “policing for profit.”

The legal term is “civil forfeiture.” But whatever the terminology, Florida police used the controversial legal process to seize $200,000 and a brand new truck from an NFL player who was arrested on drug charges.

Letroy Guion was pulled over at a traffic stop for swerving, and the money and truck were seized under Florida’s Contraband Forfeiture Act.

When a judge reviewed Guion’s case, he stated that there was probably cause for the seizure, noting that Guion was traveling down a “drug corridor” and that the fact that he was “carrying such a large amount of money itself is strong evidence that currency was intended to be furnished in return for drugs.”

Under the law, property can be seized if it is believed to be tied to a crime. A judge can then decide if the seizing agency keeps the property.

“People who deal drugs, they have no rules and a lot of money. Police departments, sheriff’s offices, they have a lot of rules and not a lot of money,” says Starke Police Chief Jeff Johnson, noting that forfeiture money and property always goes to good use. For example, Johnson would like to use Guion’s money to replace police cars that are over a decade old.

Florida law dictates how the money can be spent: “If the seizing agency is a county or municipal agency, the remaining proceeds shall be deposited in a special law enforcement trust fund established by the board of county commissioners or the governing body of the municipality. Such proceeds and interest earned therefrom shall be used for school resource officer, crime prevention, safe neighborhood, drug abuse education and prevention programs, or for other law enforcement purposes, which include defraying the cost of protracted or complex investigations, providing additional equipment or expertise, purchasing automated external defibrillators for use in law enforcement vehicles, and providing matching funds to obtain federal grants.”

In the meantime, Guion has 20 days to respond to the judge’s decision while he is out on $100,000 bond.

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