Alabama Townspeople Revolt After Local Officials Conspire to Rip Them Off
The police department of a small Alabama town was nearing bankruptcy due to a lack of ticket revenue, according to AL.com. So the cash-strapped department and city council took drastic measures with an assets forfeiture program for those caught speeding.
Now the mayor of the city is blaming the bad press about the sketchy scheme and a seven-plaintiff lawsuit for a drop in revenue, Reason reports. The department would impound vehicles officers pulled over using the state’s assets forfeiture law, which allows them to keep 100 percent of the items taken by police. Officers would claim a suspicion of drugs or anything they could come up with. Then owners of those vehicles were required to pay a $500 impound fee.
The town hired officers and worked with a judge to maintain the program. One alleged victim was Trey Crozier, who lost $1,750 to the Castleberry Police Department.
The townspeople—pop. 550—were so furious about the program they booted the mayor (who came up with the idea to stop and confiscate vehicles) from office. A municipal court judge and prosecutor were also ousted. Police chief Tracy Hawsey was forced to resign in February.
Lead attorney Richard Nix thinks more than 100 people were impacted by the city’s program. All of items that were seized by police haven’t been located in the investigation. The totality of cash taken estimates $5,500. He claimed that the chief didn’t follow minimal procedural requirements to perform an asset forfeiture.