Court ruling upholds cash seizure

A federal judge upheld the recent seizure of more than one hundred thousand dollars during a traffic stop in Carson County earlier this year.

On January 22, a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper stopped Graham Isaac Shaw on I-40 for speeding.

According to court documents, when the trooper questioned Shaw about his itinerary and intentions, he appeared extremely nervous, to the point of breaking the officerâ??s pen when he signed the ticket, and gave vague and inconsistent statements, many of which were later found to have been false.

The documents also state that during the questioning, Shaw denied having any contraband or large sums of cash. When the trooper asked for permission to search the vehicle, Shaw refused. A drug dog was called out, and alerted on the vehicle. The subsequent search yielded two bundles of cash in vacuum-sealed plastic in a backpack in the trunk.

Shaw was found to be in possession of two cell phones, one of which contained â??â?¦multiple text messages regarding the cultivation and distribution of marijuana,â?? according to court documents.

$100,108 in cash was seized, and Shaw was charged with money laundering. When tested, the currency was found to have trace amounts of marijuana on it, according to court documents.

Documents state that on April 29, Shaw filed a verified claim of ownership to the seized currency, but failed to file a second required claim in the designated time period.

Last week (Dec. 12


), U.S. District Court Mary Lou Robinson issued an opinion granting a request for default judgment, allowing the United States Government to keep the seized cash.

In her opinion, Robinson wrote,

â??â?¦there is sufficient factual detail to support a reasonable belief that the Defendant currency constitutes moneys furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or was used or intended to be used to facilitate a violation of 21 U.S.C. 881(a)(6).â??

21 U.S.C. 881(a)(6) outlines what is subject to forfeiture under U.S. law, which includes narcotics and cash or other proceeds believed to be related to drug trafficking.

In this case, Robinson judged that criterium to be met, writing,

â??With regard to the sufficiency of the factual detail of the complaint and verified affidavit, the Government need not trace the property to a particular drug transaction, so long as the totality of the circumstances leads to a finding of a connection.â??

The Department of Justice enforces the law through the Asset Forfeiture Program.

According to the DOJâ??s website,

â??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.â??

Last year, the program took in $4,268,369,616 in seized cash, which represents about one percent of the total asset forfeitures of about $4.45 trillion.

You can learn more about the DOJâ??s Asset Forfeiture Program at the link attached to this story.