Citing a lack of candor by the government in its court papers, a federal judge has ordered the return of $167,000 seized from a man’s motor home during a traffic stop near Elko.
State and local law
enforcement officers stopped Straughn Gorman, a resident of Hawaii,
twice within 50 minutes in January 2013 as he was driving the motor home
west on Interstate 80 between Wells and Elko, according to court
A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper said he first stopped
Gorman for driving too slow in the fast lane, but after Gorman refused
to let him search the motor home he was allowed to go on his way without
a citation for anything.
The trooper then arranged for an Elko
County sheriff’s deputy with a drug-sniffing dog to stop Gorman again,
and the dog alerted the deputy to something suspicious in the motor
home, documents show. The search turned up no drugs but the $167,000 was
found hidden in various places.
Gorman was not charged with any
crime, but his money was seized and turned over to federal authorities
for civil forfeiture proceedings. Authorities suspected he was on his
way to California to buy marijuana, though Gorman said he was going to
visit his girlfriend in Sacramento.
In his June 12 decision,
Senior U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks chastised the Nevada U.S.
Attorney’s office in Reno for not revealing details about the related
first stop in their forfeiture papers.