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Drug crime charges dismissed, money still held by U.S. Marshalls

Criminal charges often bring civil, social and personal problems to a person's life. Regardless of whether an accused individual is convicted, allegations of illicit activity can damage personal relationships and careers. For one Minnesota man, criminal accusations may result in the forfeiture of his property, despite the fact that charges against him were dismissed by a judge.

The man, who was a store clerk for a tobacco shop in Minneapolis, was caught up in the raid of that shop. In March 2012, police reportedly received a tip that synthetic marijuana was being sold out of the shop. During subsequent investigations, an undercover police officer allegedly purchased 420! Cubed on four occasions. The substance is a brand of XLR11. At the time, XLR11 was not listed as illegal by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

During a November 2012 raid of the shop, investigators reportedly found $8,105 in a microwave as well as suspected drugs. Police also searched the store clerk's home and allegedly found $200,020 in cash and 72 pounds of what they described as a green, leafy substance. Police also seized a Mercedes-Benz.

In May 2013, the store clerk's attorney presented the defense that crime labs have not yet shown the green substance to be illegal. The court appearance occurred months after the initial seizure of property. The judge agreed with the defense and tossed out the charges. The judge also ordered the man's property returned.

The $200,020 was moved into federal custody, though. Almost a year later, the federal government filed a civil suit claiming the funds were gained through illicit means or otherwise related, noting that XLR11 was listed as a controlled substance in May 2013. The DEA listing occurred months after the arrest of the store clerk and a week after the judge dismissed the charges.

Despite the apparent gray area in this case, the federal government continues to hold the store clerk's money. The federal government doesn't require criminal action to seize money it believes was earned through illicit means. In the meantime, the store clerk undoubtedly enjoys his freedom but must continue to seek civil legal recourse in the matter of his money.

Source: Star Tribune, "Full Disclosure: $200K in custody," James Eli Shiffer, June 1, 2014

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Mankey Law Office
5500 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 1025
The Colonnade
Golden Valley, MN 55416

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