Guilty until proven innocent?

This should enrage a lot of Americans – a man defended his house against robbers only to have his life savings ($402,767 which he kept in a safe in his home) confiscated by the FBI.

Lima Police Department officers originally took the money from his house but the FBI stepped in and took it from the Police Department. Ricks has not been charged with a crime and was cleared in a fatal shooting of one of the robbers but still the FBI has refused to return the money, he said.

Apparently when the police entered his home for the investigation they found marijuana, which Mr. Ricks uses to ease the pain from his arthritis and hip replacement. Somehow the police used this illegal find to justify their confiscation of his life-savings, and will not give it back unless he can prove how he made the money. According to Ohio ACLU legal director Jeff Gamso:

“The law of forfeiture basically says you have to prove you’re innocent. It’s terrible, terrible law”

Guilty until proven innocent – it sounds like some sort of joke, but unfortunately it’s true. It’s easy to read a story like this and quickly move on, but this could happen to any one of us. How can you be so sure that this couldn’t be you? I try and keep records for a lot of stuff, but I certainly don’t have records for every cent of money I’ve made or spent in the last year, let alone the last decade. And yet they are asking this man to essentially provide a lifetime’s worth of receipts in order to get HIS money back from the FBI. Two crimes committed against him in the same day – one by robbers, and the other by the government. It’s absolutely disgusting. Unfortunately it gets a little worse – not only does he lack money to hire a lawyer (since…you know…it was all stolen), but if he does get representation he will likely be fighting both the FBI and the local government who initially took his savings:

If the FBI does keep the money, it would be put toward a law enforcement use, if the city of Lima does not fight for it because the city discovered it, Gamso said.

So the city may argue that they have “first dibs” on the cash – they found it first, and the FBI took it from them. I can’t believe this is actually a debate over who the money belongs to. What a sad world we live in….do we have any rights left?

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