Thursday, December 9, 2010

City of Aurora Steals $190,000 From Citizen; Refuses to Return It Even After Court Order

Jesus Martinez, 27, was carrying $190,040 when his pickup truck was stopped by an Aurora police officer about 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18 near Indian Trail and Timberlake roads.

The police officer confiscated the cash, and the city has informed Martinez and his brother, Jose, 34, that Aurora will seek to keep it through civil forfeiture, a procedure that allows police agencies to seize property where the legal standard is lower than proof needed in a criminal forfeiture.

The brothers are home remodelers. Neither has been charged with a crime in this case, and neither has a criminal record, according to Kane County court records.

"I've never seen anything like this in 30 years of practice," said Aurora attorney Patrick Kinnally, who is representing the brothers.

A month after the stop, Kinnally filed a complaint arguing that Aurora had no right to keep the money. Eleven days after that, Kinnally and lawyers representing Aurora appeared before Kane County Circuit Judge Michael Colwell.

"Their lawyers basically said the city was going to file for forfeiture," Kinnally said. "The judge asked on what basis. The lawyer said, 'We don't know,' and the judge said: 'This is America. Give it back.'"

The judge ordered the city to return the $190,040, along with a month's interest and costs. But Kinnally said that when he brought the order to Aurora, the city refused to turn over the cash

Maybe they just really needed a new rec room at police headquarters . . .

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