New Hope Police Chief Tim Fournier and his department were still reeling from the ambush shooting of two officers by a mentally unstable man when the investigation took a startling twist. The 12-gauge pistol-grip Stoeger shotgun wielded by attacker Raymond Kmetz had come from the Duluth Police Department. That department followed all state and federal laws when it sold the gun and 45 other confiscated hunting guns to the public over the last two years. Kmetz, who was prohibited from owning a gun because of his mental health history, ordered it from an online auction site and had a friend pick it up in an illegal “straw” purchase at a gun shop in Princeton, Minn. On Jan. 26, Kmetz, 68, took the gun to New Hope City Hall, where he shot the two officers. Other officers returned fire, killing him. “You can’t guarantee where guns go,” Fournier said. Duluth police pocketed $5,538 for selling the 46 shotguns. Feb. 13, Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said his … [Read more...] about To sell or destroy? Law enforcement agencies weigh fate of seized guns
Texas government auctions seized property
By Robert Gebelhoff The Washington PostWhen U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized Gerardo Serrano’s pickup truck in September 2015, there was no judge to oversee his case. There were no warrants or squabbling lawyers. In fact, Serrano was never even charged with a crime. He lost his truck because, when he crossed into Mexico at Eagle Pass, Texas, agents found five low-caliber bullets that Serrano had forgotten were in the vehicle’s center console. Serrano was one of the lucky ones: He eventually got his truck back with the help of the libertarian Institute for Justice. But President Donald Trump wants to use the money the federal government made from auctioning off property it takes from people such as Serrano to pay for a border wall with Mexico. Trump’s position highlights a major problem with civil forfeiture: It tempts the government to steal from citizens for its own gain. The agents could seize Serrano’s truck without any due process because of … [Read more...] about Robert Gebelhoff: How much stolen money is Trump eyeing to build his wall?
In February 2016, prosecutors in Houston filed a lawsuit against a truck: State of Texas vs. One 2003 Chevrolet Silverado. Houston police had seized the vehicle after surveilling its driver, Macario Hernandez, and pulling him over after he left his house. They took the truck to court, hoping to keep it or sell it at auction to fund their operations, claiming the vehicle was known to be involved in the drug trade. But the truck’s owner, Oralia Rodriguez, was never charged with a crime. She wasn’t at the scene when officers pulled over Hernandez, her son, and found 13.5 grams of marijuana in his pocket. In fact, Rodriguez said she had recently loaned him the car so he could drive his pregnant girlfriend to the doctor. The girlfriend was having difficulty with her pregnancy and was at risk of losing the baby, Rodriguez said. She was desperate not to lose her truck, which had recently had new tires installed among other repairs, which she was still working to pay off. “My … [Read more...] about Texas police made more than $50 million in 2017 from seizing people’s property. Not everyone was guilty of a crime.
When 71-year-old Evelyn Brown describes her childhood home, she speaks of acres of farmland near Mount Pleasant that formed the backdrop for her earliest memories.Her great-great-grandfather George Singleton acquired the property in 1892 during an era after the Civil War when land ownership was steadily rising among African-American farmers. Around that time in South Carolina, more than 44,500 acres of land had been sold to African-Americans through the S.C. Land Commission, which was created to help freedmen acquire property.Much of that land sat in isolated, low-lying coastal areas that were less desirable at the time. More than 100 years later, those areas would see some of the most rapid population growth and development on the East Coast.Brown’s family settled in an African-American community in Awendaw known as 10-Mile, tucked off U.S. Highway 17. There, they grew cotton and corn, sharing the land and its upkeep.“Everybody just kind of looked out for each … [Read more...] about SC land slipping away from families amid fragile claims and explosive growth
Inmate No. 15000-030 is released into the frigid January morning at 8:46, a gray custodial suit of sweatpants and long-sleeved thermal clinging to his immense frame, a bushy salt-and-pepper beard wrapping around his face, a guard escorting him with a high-powered rifle slung over his right shoulder. Most politicians would appear hopelessly—dangerously—misplaced in a federal prison. Kent Sorenson is not most politicians. Standing over six feet tall and weighing every bit of 270 pounds, with 11 tattoos and a cleanshaven head, Sorenson is probably the only state senator to have ever been mistaken for a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. That happened during his first stop on the penal turnpike, the Metropolitan Correctional Center (“The MCC”) in Chicago, an administrative facility with maximum-security lodging where the “fish” was viewed warily by fellow inmates. A white supremacist, they figured, sizing him up. It didn’t take long—as soon as … [Read more...] about Kent Sorenson Was a Tea Party Hero. Then He Lost Everything.