WINNEMUCCA, Nev. — Norther Nevada sheriff’s deputy Lee Dove has been accused of pulling over travelers who were driving on I-80 and illegally confiscating their cash.
Tan Nguyen and Ken Smith have both told similar accounts of their encounters with Dove.
Nguyen was stopped on Sept. 23 for speeding although his legal team claims it was a profile in. He was allegedly driving 78 mph which is slightly over the posted speed limit of 75 mph.
Nguyen said he did not consent to a search of his car but it was searched anyway. In a suitcase Dove found $50,000 in cash which Nguyen he won at a casino. He says that Dove told him he suspected the money was obtained illegally.
Nguyen was given a written warning for speeding and signed a “safekeeping receipt,” which indicated the money was seized or abandoned and would not be returned to him. Nguyen said he signed it because Dove threatened to seize his vehicle unless he left and forgot about the whole incident.
The next day the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, posted a photo of sheriff Dove posing with $50,000. The Humboldt Sheriff’s office said, “This cash would have been used to purchase illegal drugs and now will benefit Humboldt County with training and equipment. Great job.”
The US Department of Justice defines the purpose and scope of the Asset forfeiture laws as,
The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program encompasses the seizure and forfeiture of assets that represent the proceeds of, or were used to facilitate federal crimes. The primary mission of the Program is to employ asset forfeiture powers in a manner that enhances public safety and security. This is accomplished by removing the proceeds of crime and other assets relied upon by criminals and their associates to perpetuate their criminal activity against our society. Asset forfeiture has the power to disrupt or dismantle criminal organizations that would continue to function if we only convicted and incarcerated specific individuals.
During Smith’s stop he claims he was forced to turn over a pistol and $13,800 in cash that was in the vehicle and to this day suffers from severe duress over the incident and forced forfeiture of his money.
According to Hiibel, Dove has had evidence he collected suppressed by the court at least twice.
If the The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, particularly deputy Lee Dove, has engaged in illegal seizure behavior then there may be other people who have had asset illegally seized and have not yet come forward.
One man posted online a detailed account of what he claims was his encounter with deputy Dove in 2011. The unidentified man claimed he was relocating to California and his parent has given him $2,500 in traveling money. He says that Lee stopped him and asked if he had money in the car or on his debit card. He says that Deputy Cory Allen was present as well and that they confiscated his money. Perhaps he will join in the suit.
The lawsuits filed by representative for Nguyen and Smith say the cash seizures are illegal and violates the Constitution because they show a pattern of stopping driver for speeding yet it is just a pretext for drug busts.