Feds seek forfeiture of $500K seized in Nebraska traffic stop

December 15, 2018

Federal prosecutors are seeking to forfeit nearly $500,000 in cash seized during a 2016 traffic stop on Interstate 80 by a Seward County sheriff’s deputy, according to court records.

Charles Bucher was stopped April 7, 2016, by then-Sgt. Mike Vance, who was also an officer on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Task Force, according to a forfeiture complaint filed in federal district court this week.

Vance stopped Bucher’s westbound truck and ultimately wrote him a warning for driving on the shoulder, an affidavit for his arrest said.

But during the stop, Vance learned from dispatchers that Bucher had previous arrests for drug offenses, the forfeiture complaint said.

Vance asked Bucher if he had any drugs, weapons or large amounts of cash inside the truck. Bucher said “no” and then gave Vance permission to search the truck, the complaint said.

The sergeant lifted up the rear seat and found several vacuum-sealed bags of cash.

Bucher was arrested on suspicion of possession of drug money and taken to jail.

The money was counted and totaled more than $167,000, but during further searching of the truck, law enforcement found more than $329,000 hidden inside the tailgate, the complaint said.

Overall, the money totaled $497,440.

A laptop was also seized during the search, along with less than an ounce of marijuana, the forfeiture complaint said.

Seward County prosecutors charged Bucher with possession of drug money.

The case was bound over to district court, but about two weeks before the scheduled trial date, prosecutors dropped the charge.

In the forfeiture complaint, federal prosecutors allege the money and laptop were tied to drug trafficking.

They must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence if Bucher contests that allegation.

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