I have written about civil forfeiture. I will continue to write about it.
Here are more details. The federal government has targeted real estate with $50,000 in equity. Real estate that is heavily mortgaged is immune. It seems that evil-doing inanimate objects need $50,000 in equity to commit a crime. If a piece of real estate is heavily mortgaged, it does not commit crimes.
This family-run motel had no debt, so it was a lurid, ruthless criminal. Unbenownst to its owner, Russ Caswell, age 68, his motel had been luring innocent victims into a life of addiction and degradation.
The federal government has sued the motel in a landmark case, “United States of America vs. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts.” The government is not charging Mr. Caswell with anything. The motel has been conducting crimes that Mr. Caswell had nothing to do with.
The motel must be punished. It must be punished very specifically. It must be reformed. It must be restored from a life of crime. So, the government will sell the motel to a new owner, who will be more alert.
The federal government will give 80% of the money to the local police department, which has shown yeoman diligence in tracking the elusive actions of the motel.
The motel was built in 1955. Beginning in 1994, police have arrested 30 customers for drug dealing. The police were willing to overlook the criminal intent of the motel for over 15 years. But the police department’s tolerance finally ran out. So did the U.S. government’s tolerance.
Civil forfeiture is the obvious solution for incorrigible real estate with over $50,000 in equity. This motel has $1.5 million in equity. It is clearly incorrigible. Not one of its 56 rooms can be trusted. It has preyed on the community for far too long.
Nationally known columnist describes the situation.
The government says the rooms were used to “facilitate” a crime. It does not say the Caswells knew or even that they were supposed to know what was going on in all their rooms all the time. Civil forfeiture law treats citizens worse than criminals, requiring them to prove their innocence — to prove they did everything possible to prevent those rare crimes from occurring in a few of those rooms. What counts as possible remains vague. The Caswells voluntarily installed security cameras, they photocopy customers’ identifications and record their license plates, and turn the information over to the police, who have never asked the Caswells to do more.
The motel’s owners went to this much trouble to stop the motel from colluding with drug dealers, yet the drug deals continue. Clearly, the federal government must intervene. The integrity of America is at stake.
The government has dusted off laws that applied to pirates: civil forfeiture. Motel Caswell is not going to be flying its invisible jolly roger any more — not if the U.S. government and the Tewksbury police department have anything to say about it.
The Caswells are being defended by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm. Otherwise, legal fees would eat up their equity. They would have had to borrow against the motel. But banks rarely lend to help get criminal motels off the hook.
The Caswells no doubt mean well, but it’s time that they faced facts: their motel is incorrigible under present management. It needs to be reformed.
This is America. America is fed up with motels that think they can get away with debauching our youth. This must be stopped . . . for the sake of the children. For sake of truth, justice, and the American way.
A word to the wise is sufficient.