Ruling Gives Motel WinIn U.S. Forfeiture BattleA federal judge rejected the Justice Department's effort to seize a family-owned motel in Tewksbury, Mass., a decision that could rein in the federal government's power to seize private property.The government argued that the property, known as the Motel Caswell, was forfeitable because it has been connected to criminal activity, in this case 15 drug-related incidents between 1994 and 2008. The Caswell family, owners of the motel through a trust, said it had nothing do with the drug activities.In a sometimes scathing ruling, which for now halts the civil action, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein said the government "had not met its burden of proving a substantial connection between the Motel Caswell and the forfeitable crimes, and …has not met its burden of proving that the property is forfeitable."The judge added that the proprietor, Russell Caswell, of Tewksbury, met his "burden of proving the innocent owner defense."Mr. Caswell's case, which was detailed in a page-one Wall Street Journal article in 2011, challenged the U.S. government's asset-forfeiture system, which collects billions of dollars each year of cash, real estate, cars and other assets. In some cases, property has been seized without the owner being convicted of a crime.The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement that it respected the opinion, but added that the case "was strictly a law-enforcement effort to crack down on what was seen as a pattern of using the motel to further the commission of drug crimes for nearly three decades. http://topics.wsj.com/article/SB2000142412788732453930457826...---The locals and feds have been going after 'family motels' to try and 'take them over' then sell them at fantastic prices to developers. They tried it in Dallas - harassed the owner for ten years. LIke one drug arrest a YEAR and they go after them. In MA, there were 14 'drug related incidents' in 30 years!...yet, they go after the innocent owner. That could mean that one person who stayed overnight had some drugs on him. Duh!........In Dallas, the motel was valued at 1.5 million for the real estate.The good guys win one. In all these cases, the owners have to prove they are 'innocent' ....even after they followed all the rules, screened their guests as well as possible......It's the government jackboots doing the bidding of the developers in many cases.......property seized with no legal recourse other than proving you are 'innocent'......t.
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