Nevada cops steal Marine vet’s life savings in civil forfeiture scam
12/12/2021 // JD Heyes // Views

Nevada Highway Patrol officers appear to have stolen the life savings of a former Marine and Iraq war veteran because they are 'legally' allowed to do so under scandalous civil forfeiture laws.

The only good news here is that his case has been picked up by the Institute for Justice, which has filed suit against the Nevada department as well as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency who was given the Marine's money so they could get a kickback, per the legal organization's website:

Stephen Lara did everything right. He served his country in the Marines for over 16 years, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is devoted to his two daughters and has been saving to buy a house where they can live with him. But his plans came crashing down last winter, when the Nevada Highway Patrol seized his life savings. The officers knew they had no evidence of any crime, but they took Stephen’s money anyway to hand over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in the anticipation that the federal agency could take Stephen’s money and kick back a portion of the proceeds to the Highway Patrol through a program called “equitable sharing.”

The institute went on to point out that Lara has never been accused of any crime by the Nevada State Patrol or the DEA, the latter of which has "sat on" his money "for months" while "ignoring the legal deadlines" requiring the agency to return it.

The legal organization went on to report that until only recently, Lara lived near his ex-wife and two daughters in a small California town close to Reno, Nev., which is situated along the California state line. When the COVID-19 pandemic began he was laid off from a job working for a local hospital and was forced to move into his parents' home in Lubbock, Texas. He would return to California for one weekend per month to spend time with his kids, sometimes taking along his life savings.


"It was on one of these trips in February 2021 that Stephen’s life was turned upside down," the institute's press release stated.

The organization explained how it all went down:

On his drive from Texas to California, a Nevada Highway Patrol officer engineered a reason to pull him over, saying that he passed too closely to a tanker truck. The officer who pulled Stephen over complimented his driving but nevertheless prolonged the stop and asked a series of questions about Stephen’s life and travels. Stephen told the officer that his life savings was in the trunk. Another group of officers arrived, and Stephen gave them permission to search his car.

They found a backpack with Stephen’s money, just where he said it would be, along with receipts showing all his bank withdrawals. After a debate amongst the officers, which was recorded on body camera footage, they decided to seize his life savings.

Gave the police permission to check his vehicle; told officers he had a wad of money on him and that it was his life savings; told cops where the money was; had receipts for all of the withdrawals.

None of that mattered: The cops essentially stole his money and then for good measure, "left him on the side of the road without enough money to even afford gas to drive home," says the press release.

"Since then, months have passed and the DEA has missed the deadlines set by federal law for it to either return the money or file a case explaining what the government believes Stephen did wrong. Despite that, the DEA continues to hold on to Stephen’s money," says the legal organization.

This legalized theft -- and that's what it is -- has to stop. Which party in Washington or in the states will step up and repeal it?

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