Appeals Court Orders New Look at Seizure of Cash by DEA
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The Drug Enforcement Administration acted in bad faith when it seized nearly $67,000 from a man who was never charged, then failed to notify him so he could get it back, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the DEA to return the money to Archie Glasgow of Indianapolis or begin new forfeiture proceedings.
On Nov. 23, 1988, Glasgow was stopped at the St. Louis airport by DEA agents who seized $66,700 in cash from his briefcase.
Glasgow, who said the cash came from jewelry sales and a card game, wasn’t charged with any crime. He was allowed to continue his trip after the money was taken.
Four months later, despite Glasgow’s attempts to recover the money, the DEA declared it forfeited under a federal lawallowing seizure of cash or property that agents have probable cause to believe came from drug activity.
A district court dismissed Glasgow’s claim, saying he had not filed a timely claim with the agency.
The appeals court disagreed.
Tuesday’s opinion noted the agency told Glasgow he would be notified when he should begin his claims process, then only included a notice in an edition of USA Today three weeks later in a list of hundreds of DEA seizures.
The court concluded that the constitutional property interests of claimants such as Glasgow are too significant to be satisfied by that type of notice. And the panel said it believed evidence in the case reflected bad faith by the DEA.
″Within one week of the seizure, DEA knew that Glasgow wanted his money back and intended to contest any forfeiture,″ the court wrote. ″The agency ignored his efforts to secure immediate return of his property and delayed taking any action for two months.″
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday, saying the office had not seen the opinion.