Humboldt Co. D.A. to Review Cash Seizures

Reported by: Joe Hart
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Updated: 3/14/2014 7:02 pm
(, Reno NV)

The Humboldt County District Attorney has announced it will review every case involving cash seizures to make sure it's office is following proper procedures in these cases.

 The news comes after Humboldt County just paid to settle two claims filed by motorists who accused the sheriff's office of violating their civil rights by seizing their money during routine traffic stops.

 The county reimbursed one driver, Tan Nguyen, after taking $50,000 from him and also paid Nguyen $10,000 to cover his attorneys fees.  Nguyen had filed a lawsuit against the county in federal court.

   Nguyen's attorney John Ohlson credited News 4's recent On Your Side investigation into this story for helping prompt county officials to settle the case.

"You file a lawsuit and it can go unnoticed.  And unless first ammendment fellows like you get out there and bring things to light government's not naturally transparent.   You've got to shine a light on them," Ohlson said.

  Ohlson also said there was no reason his client should have had his money taken in the first place.

"I think the really telling point is that he wasn't charged with anything," Ohlson said.  "He had no drugs in his car.  The pretext for stopping him is that he was doing 78 in  a 75."

  The Humboldt County District Attorney released a statement Friday afternoon saying the sheriff's office followed protocol in seizing the money but questions have come up about how the cases were handled once they arrived at the district attorney's office.  A full review is underway to determine whether policies were followed in all cases where money was seized from motorists during traffic stops.

7 Comment(s)
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Old Parnell - 3/16/2014 8:43 AM
0 Votes
re "Hart Blows" - serious mistakes were made from the start, starting with Deputy Love profiling out of state drivers, hoping to make that big drug bust of the year. A big city journalist exposed their scheme, it got national attention, the county citizens were deeply embarrassed, so I can understand your rural anger. Law enforcement and the DA should probably concentrate on traffic parking duties in downtown Winnemucca for a few years, something they can handle without getting in too much trouble.

retired51 - 3/15/2014 1:55 PM
2 Votes
The sheriff, DA and deputy DA all wanted this settled as soon as possible because they are ALL running for office!!

retired51 - 3/15/2014 1:53 PM
1 Vote
Hart Blows - We don't really know if the Deputy was doing it in accordance with the law because this case was settled! If it had went to trial the whole pretext of these stops would have been brought to light and whether or not the deputy's were following proper protocol!! Their whole argument that we "think" the money was going to be used to buy drugs would not have stood up in court without any further evidence to support the seizure!

Hart Blows - 3/14/2014 9:28 PM
0 Votes
Old Guy - the point is the deputy didn't do anything wrong the district attorney did!

oldguyincc - 3/14/2014 9:19 PM
1 Vote
And so, even though the Humboldt County Sheriff's office "did nothing wrong," the county had to settle both claims to avoid a federal law suit, and pay attorneys' fees. That's not what happens if your law enforcement officials "do nothing wrong".

Hart Blows - 3/14/2014 8:13 PM
0 Votes
Way to twist the story but the DA's office said, "After the lawful seizure of those assets, case reports were filed with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office. Those files did not receive priority in the District Attorney's Office due to staffing issues, as criminal prosecutions necessarily take precedence to civil cases. This review includes cases in which the person from whom the asset was seized disclaimed any interest in the property following its seizure, as in the cases with Mr. Nguyen and Mr. Lee. The cases involving Mr. Nguyen and Mr. Lee raised procedural issues in the District Attorney's Office and those issues are being addressed by a review of every submitted case. The media's reporting on these cases has unfairly criticized the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office as the Sheriff's Office was acting in accordance with the law as they understood it and was not responsible for any procedural defects following their seizure of the assets." The Humboldt County District Attorney accepted they were wrong in not filing the cases in a timely manner!!

Hart Blows - 3/14/2014 8:09 PM
0 Votes
You missed the whole point ... the DA is the one in the wrong here! Because he didn't do his job is why the money had to be given back, not because anything the sheriffs office did wrong! Come On Joe Hart do some actual reporting!

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