Houston Prosecutors Are Keeping Cash Seized From Defendants Whose Cases Were Compromised by Police Corruption

“Even in cases that hinged on the trustworthiness of demonstrably untrustworthy cops, The Houston Chroniclereports, prosecutors so far have chosen to keep nearly all of the property seized from defendants. That striking contradiction illustrates the lax rules governing civil asset forfeiture, which allows police and prosecutors to pad their budgets by confiscating allegedly crime-tainted property.

The Chronicle identified “three dozen instances in recent years in which an indicted member of the Squad 15 narcotics unit swore to the facts used to justify a search leading to a cash or vehicle confiscation.” The loot, collected over a five-year period, included about $75,000 in cash and several cars. “Records show some or all of the money confiscated during the busts was returned in five cases,” the Chronicle reports, “typically after defendants hired lawyers to challenge the forfeitures.” But the county has kept the rest of the money and the cars, even though prosecutors consider the evidence that led to the seizures unreliable because it was offered by cops with a record of making stuff up.”

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