Las Vegas Sun

April 26, 2015

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Man gets chance to prove nearly $1 million seized by police rightfully his

CARSON CITY — A federal appeals court panel is giving a man another chance to prove in Las Vegas that he is the legal owner of $999,830 seized from the back of his rental car in August 2008.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that District Court Judge Kent Dawson used the wrong standard in denying the claim that Michael Simard was entitled to the cash

Simard, who has a Canadian driver’s license, was stopped for speeding on Interstate 15 by the Nevada Highway Patrol. He said he was on a sightseeing tour and gave police permission to search the vehicle.

Patrol Sgt. Eric Kemmer searched the vehicle and found the money bundled in stacks in a duffle bag in the trunk. Simard initially denied any knowledge of the money, which was confiscated, was given a warning for speeding and released.

The government filed a complaint in January 2009 seeking forfeiture of the money, arguing there was evidence Simard was somehow involved in drug smuggling or carrying drug money.

Simard challenged the claim, asserting he is the rightful owner of the cash.

The panel of the appeals court held that Simard’s “unequivocal assertion of ownership” was enough to have further evidence produced at the early stages of the case to determine his claim.

The panel sent the case back to Dawson for further hearings on the ownership issue.

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  1. He was given a warning and then released! and now they want to claim he was somehow involved with a phantom drug deal or just drug money...
    The burden of proof always falls on the accuser.... so where their proof other than a plucked from the air excuse.

    This is why I never turn money or guns over that I find when I purchase storage units, You will never see it again they always make a claim of some sort and you are to be punished. Yes I have found several thousand dollars not including precious metals in units I think belong to drug dealers that went to jail.

  2. "Simard . . . was stopped for speeding on Interstate 15 by the Nevada Highway Patrol. He said he was on a sightseeing tour and gave police permission to search the vehicle."

    If he gave permission he was either ignorant or intimidated into it. Good thing for him the Fourth Amendment covers all police victims, not just citizens.

    "Unusual case, but have to agree that the Feds haven't produced much of a case in this."

    tigermike -- unfortunately for Simard he got Dawson, who stretches the law completely out of shape to favor the Golden Rule. You know, whoever has the gold makes the rules. Like the banks. Pray your removed foreclosure case doesn't get him.

    "So, ask him where the money is from?"

    TomD -- exactly why would that be anybody else's business?

    "If the exercise of constitutional rights will thwart the effectiveness of a system of law enforcement, then there is something very wrong with that system." -- Escobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 490 (1964)

  3. Does he have to pay taxes on the money as soon as he proves its his.

  4. "Not different then if I was caught speeding and the officer asked in a friendly manner "where are you going so fast" and I replied "non [sic] of your business" instead of "going to visit a friend"

    TomD -- apples and oranges again. Speeding would be an obvious violation the officer observed, giving him probable cause for the stop. Unless the trunk was already open and its contents visible to all, its contents were protected by the Fourth Amendment.

    "Indifference to personal liberty is but the precursor of the State's hostility to it." -- United States v. Penn, 647 F.2d 876 (9th Circuit, 1980), Judge Kennedy dissenting