HIGHWAY ROBBERY IN RENO: NEVADA COPS USE CIVIL FORFEITURE TO STEAL A VETERAN’S LIFE SAVINGS | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

HIGHWAY ROBBERY IN RENO: NEVADA COPS USE CIVIL FORFEITURE TO STEAL A VETERAN’S LIFE SAVINGS

Last February, while driving down a Nevada highway on the way to visit his daughters, Stephen Lara was robbed in plain sight. But his assailants were not ordinary criminals—they were police officers from Nevada Highway Patrol.

Using a controversial legal tactic called civil forfeiture, the officers fabricated a reason to stop Lara, detained him for more than an hour, and eventually left with his entire life savings. The officers never alleged he’d done anything illegal—let alone, charged him with any crime—and yet they left him penniless, standing on the side of the road.

Stephen is just one of the latest victims of policing for profit—the unconstitutional practice of using civil forfeiture to seize and keep innocent Americans’ cash, cars, and other property. Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can take ordinary Americans’ property without ever charging them with a crime. Civil forfeiture flips “innocent until proven guilty” on its head, and forces property owners to hire an attorney and prove their innocence in court to get their property back. Worse still, the federal government pays state officers to abuse civil forfeiture through a program called “equitable sharing” in which state officers can seize money, hand it over to the federal government to do all the work forfeiting it, and then get most of the forfeited money returned as a kickback.

Stephen, who is a decorated Marine Corps veteran who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is no stranger to a fight, and so today he has partnered with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit against the Nevada Highway Patrol to put meaningful constitutional constraints on civil forfeiture and to end the abuse of “equitable sharing” once and for all.

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