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Update on Tenaha police abuses

Two times, first in 2007, then later I think in 2009, I was illegally stopped with no violations at all, on US highways. As a result of this, I am now much more afraid of US cops than Mexican cops.

Several years ago, I wrote about my experiences, and I think I included the tale of Tenaha, Texas, which was subject to a class action law suit for simply confiscating cash and vehicles. In some cases, they told people their kids would be taken by CPS unless they signed over everything.

One man was dumped off on the highway, with his car stolen, his cash and phone confiscated. He had to ask someone to call his mom who had to rent a car to pick him up.

They worked on a class action law suit, which was finally certified on the condition they did not ask for cash compensation.

While reading a current case about a 70 year old man who was illegally stopped and jailed with no evidence, I Googled for the Tenaha case. THEY WON!

Turns out the cop/prosecutor thugs in some cases wrote down what they had done, including telling them their kids would be taken if they didn’t sign over their cash and vehicles.

So, now they have been forced to fix things. The main culprit was brazen about it, and insisted he felt justified in doing what he did. Claims God sent him to do just that.

Here is the newspaper article on the settlement. It includes other forfeiture abuses as well.

Frankly, I am not convinced Tenaha is unique. The founders well knew how government abuses increase with time.


I read the article. That is SCARY!!
The founders must be rolling over in their graves. These abuses would have made even King George III blush.

. Towns are encorporated but police departments aren’'t. They should be getting training at the county and state level. I would definitely move up the ladder and lodge a complaint. If our town police department pulled some of this stuff, I would take a complaint directly to the state. Incorporating a town protects it from some negligence. It does not insulate it from government intervention at a higher level.

The first time this stuff happens may not result with something being done. But, if you are the fifth such complaint, some one will take notice and do something about it. If you don’t get satisfaction there, go to the nearest FBI office. Founding fathers has little to do with state and local misdeeds . As a matter of fact, limiting protection of the average citizen at the expence of states rights and local govt. rights is often lauded as reason to limit federal intervention. If the ACLU has an office near by, they would sure be interested. There are recourses.

But if you are afraid of central govt. and civil liberty supporters like the ACLU and don’t believe in their capacity to protect your personal rights and freedoms, you sure as heck aren’t going to ask for help or complain about local govt. Then you are afraid of everyone.

Thanks for the update. It was a little hard to follow their writing style though. I also have been concerned with the laws concerning confiscation but that will vary state by state. I don’t believe Minnesota is out of control on this although we did have members of the drug task force fired for this. We really need to keep the bright lights shining on this whole thing. Also of concern is the political nature of county prosecutors and how they can make a case out of thin air for their own benefit and cost the accused thousands of dollars to defend themselves.

This all started way back with the hunting and fishing enforcement. I remeber back in the 60’s we were out duck hunting with my uncle and others and were stopped by a DNR officer. My uncle wasn’t a regular hunter so for a plug he had just used a stick instead of a store bought plug. He demonstrated how it did the job but the guy still threatened to confiscate his gun for the supposed violation. Even at my early age I thought these guys have way too much power. In the years since, they not only take your guns, but your boat, car, and the whole shebang. No way should the money go back to the courts or the enforcement agency. Just ripe for corruption.

If you pick up a rock on Federal land, and they decide it is an important rock, they can also confiscate your motor home or expensive car. Do not pick up even an unimportant looking rock on Federal Property.

In my case, though I think the first illegal stop was the Mississippi HP, I wasn’t sure. The second one was in KY, and I was sure. I wrote a really not nice letter to the Commissioner. I told him the trooper had insisted I was doing 70 in a 55 zone and that he was a g.d. liar. And, that while I cannot say exactly when or how but it will be stopped.

This is not the place for politics, and I well understand that. But, for years I have understood the fault lies with the judiciary. They are the ones who are supposed to stop this, and yet they are the ones who started it.

When they got the first case of unconstitutional confiscation, very specifically prohibited, they ruled that one did not need to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, because it was a civil case, not a criminal one, even though the original law involved proceeds of crimes.

I did not see combat, but I did serve my 2 years in the 60’s. And I think it is an outrage that I do not have protection by the constitution I swore to uphold and defend.

That’s absolutely disgusting to put it politely. What I wonder is why hasn’t the state AG, ACLU, FBI, and so on been all over these people? They should all be sitting in jail.

The judges say it’s really okay. So, nothing happens to the crooks. When a judge sees no problem, a law suit can be just a waste of time.

I did a quick read on that town and noted that the PD spent over 500 bucks of that money on a popcorn popper. They’re also making donations to the Chamber of Commerce and little league baseball programs, etc so they’re buying local support.

Apparently most, if not all, of the people who live there are just as low-life as the police if they’re willing to condone this activity.
The kids have new uniforms thanks to the innocent motorists who were mugged on the roadside… :frowning:

Mississippians seem to assume that their law enforcement is honest and ethical and fair. It is rare that a state trooper is charged for any wrong doing and most attorneys avoid handling complaints against law enforcement. In recent years a few troopers were so notorious for shaking down motorists that federal charges were brought against them and a quik plea deal was made. Local press and media gloss over the story and the public rarely pays any attention.

I just read the article.

Very disturbing

Barry Washington is delusional, but Lynda Russell is simply evil, and possibly racist.

If an officer ever stops me and demands I sign over my car and possessions, I won’t do it. They’ll have to throw me in jail and steal it. And if I ever get out, I’m going to find a bloodthirsty pit-bull go for the throat lawyer who will not stop until the whole house of cards collapses.

I love this country, but it’s shameful that this is going on here. I would expect this in some backwater, corrupt little country, not here.

I’m not a fan of forfeiture laws as that can lead to abuse. If someone is actually guilty of a crime then punish them for that crime; not as an excuse to loot their bank account.

Not many years ago a guy was stopped for speeding in a population 500 town about 30 miles from me. He had a probation violation from another state and quote, a “minute” amount of weed. The PD seized his vehicle and ended up with a BMW X5 converted to a police cruiser.

Quotes from the story bother me quite a bit.

“…the department was looking to replace an aging patrol car when he stopped a speeder in xxxxxx in November 2004.”

“It saved our community probably about $25,000,” he said. “It’s a good way of getting law enforcement vehicles.”

I’m not a fan of forfeiture laws whether they “lead to” abuse or not. It’s state-backed stealing, plain and simple. The idea that your assets can be stolen and sold off before you’re even tried flies directly in the face of everything this country and its constitution are supposed to stand for.

The very existence of forfeiture laws is an abuse, no matter how they’re used.

…and speaking of corrupt cities, here is one in Florida that is almost as bad as Tenaha.
It is so bad that the State of Florida was considering eliminating the city as a legal entity:

…and the latest update on the city of Hampton, Florida reveals that, despite its incredible violations of many laws, the State of Florida will allow it to continue its existence:

"I’m not a fan of forfeiture laws whether they “lead to” abuse or not. It’s state-backed stealing, plain and simple. "////State-sanctioned looting during war is what got us pirates; it’s what got us the James gang. Once that genie’s out of the bottle, it’s hard to put him back in. So, forfeiture in the “war on drugs” can reasonably be expected to lead to the same mercenary result.

So in other words, Hampton will continue on doing the same thing they’ve been doing. The board members and mayor may have different names but in a year, maybe two, there will be a redeux.

There was a small town here in OK a few years back whose name escapes me but I seem to remember the population was about 400. They annexed about 5 miles of near deserted highway in each direction for the sole purpose of writing city issued speeding tickets. A 10 mile wide small town if you will… :frowning:

This thread got me thinking about past events in my own county, so I thought that I would share some info on our late UN-lamented Prosecutor, Nicholas Bissell.

Bissell developed forfeiture to a high art, and actually got people to sign over their homes and tracts of land under threats of malicious prosecution–in some cases, for acts that these people had not even been involved in. He would target people whose property he wanted, and then would have his Chief of Detectives (his partner in crime) arrest these folks on trumped-up charges.

He even stole money from his business partner in a gas station business that he operated on the side!

When things finally turned bad for him, he fled NJ (after putting his mother’s home up for his bail), and drove cross-country to Nevada, where he wound up killing himself in a cheap motel, rather than surrender to the FBI agents pursuing him. And–because of his actions, his elderly mother wound up homeless when she had to forfeit her home! Nice guy, huh?

The Wikipedia entry on him is incomplete, but it gives you some idea of corruption on the part of the person who is supposed to keep the local police honest!

Some people are just corrupt and/or evil, through and through

It’s a tragedy that his poor mother had to lose her house because of it

It’s also a shame that he killed himself. It would have been more of a punishment to actually rot in prison. But he wasn’t man enough to face the music.

So that made him corrupt, evil, AND a coward, also

He saw fit to put other–sometimes innocent–people in jail, but he couldn’t face the prospect of doing time himself. The county had to put aside a couple of million $$ for the lawsuits that followed from the folks who he had bilked and who had been wrongly prosecuted, so it actually cost every taxpayer some money, over and above the folks from whom he stole houses and tracts of land.

Nick Bissell was a true piece of scum.