Thursday, June 25, 2015

Judge cites government ‘lack of candor’ in returning $167,000 seized in Nevada

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 documents.
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.

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