After a federal judge ordered the government return $167,000 law enforcement seized from a motorist, federal prosecutors are fighting the decision.
After a federal judge ordered the government return $167,000 law enforcement seized from a motorist driving through Nevada, federal prosecutors are fighting the decision.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Reno, Nev., filed documents with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Calif., earlier this month calling on the court to revisit a decision requiring the government to return cash it seized from Straughn Gorman several years ago.
Gorman was never charged with a crime.
“The prosecutors simply have the financial calculus [to appeal]—either pay a six-figure attorney’s fees to Mr. Gorman or potentially win a six-figure return if they win in the ruling and prevail,” Jason Snead, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.
In January 2013, police stopped Gorman twice outside of Elko, Nev., during a trip he was making from Delaware to Sacramento, Calif.
Gorman was driving across the country with a motorhome to see his girlfriend, and a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper first stopped the man as he headed west on Interstate 80 for driving too slowly in the passing lane. According to court documents, Gorman didn’t consent to a search of his vehicle, but the trooper sent him on his way without issuing any citations.
Less than 50 minutes later, though, an officer with the Elko County Sheriff’s Office stopped Gorman again.
On the second stop, the officer had a drug-sniffing dog with him, and law enforcement conducted a search of the motorhome, where he found $167,000 in cash stored throughout the vehicle.
The officer seized the cash, Gorman’s computer, cell phone, and vehicle under civil asset forfeiture laws. However, police found no drugs in the motorhome and never charged Gorman with a crime.
According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the Nevada Highway Patrol trooper had arranged for Gorman to be pulled over once more by the Elko County Sheriff’s Office deputy.