Muskogee County, Ok. district attorney Orvil Loge told Gawker this afternoon that prosecutors will return $53,234 in seized assets to Eh Wah, a man who was pulled over in February while carrying the cash for a Burmese Christian rock band. Loge said his office also dropped a felony criminal charge against Eh Wah, who had been accused of “acquiring proceeds from drug activity.”
The Washington Post has a report out today that on February 27, a sheriff’s deputy in Muskogee County, Oklahoma, seized $53,000 in cash from Eh Wah, the tour manager for a Burmese Christian rock band. Eh Wah had been driving with a broken tail light, and the deputy who pulled him over suspected that he was carrying drug money, despite having found no drugs or paraphernalia in his car. Eh Wah’s attorneys claim that the cash was from concert-ticket sales and donations, some of it set aside for an orphanage in Thailand, and some for a school in Burma. Now they are fighting in court to get the money back.
All over Manhattan, the NYPD is sending undercover cops into bodegas and liquor stores to buy beer underage or hawk stolen electronics, and using those stings to extract fines from business owners, then hit them with onerous penalties. Sorry, did I say all over Manhattan? I meant in Inwood, East Harlem, and Washington Heights, neighborhoods with primarily Hispanic residents.
The system of so-called “equitable sharing” of seized assets between the federal government and local police departments has long been a target for proponents of criminal justice reform, so when the feds shut the program down last year, people cheered. It turns out that the whole thing was just about budget cuts, however, and soon it will be back in full force.