Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Can Georgia police keep confiscating cash?

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 10:03 AM
Last updated 6:20 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

ATLANTA — A sheriff’s deputy pulled over Jeffrey Mordica because his car windows were tinted too dark and wound up confiscating $63,000 in cash without ever charging him with a crime or even investigating one.



This week, Mordica’s attorney asked the state Supreme Court for the money back in a case likely to fuel a debate in the General Assembly between the state’s sheriffs and its conservative lawmakers.

Mordica told officers in Lamar County near Macon that he was carrying the cash to Atlanta to buy a restaurant he had heard about. He said he owned three Tallahassee, Fla., businesses that generated a lot of cash.

The officer who pulled him over testified in an earlier hearing that Mordica appeared nervous, even after being told he would only get a warning for the window tinting. Plus, the car smelled of air freshener, and he was on Interstate 75, a known route for drug dealers.

Mordica refused to allow his car voluntarily searched, so the deputy had the drug-sniffing dog in the back of his patrol car to walk around it. The officer didn’t need permission once the dog signaled the smell of illegal drugs.

No drugs were found, only the cash and three cellphones.

The justices essentially wound up debating one another as they were questioning Mordica’s attorney and Lamar County’s prosecutor.

“Your client’s defense is ‘I had no idea this money could be related to drugs.’ Why isn’t it relevant to show he had (prior drug convictions to demonstrate that he had) opportunity and the knowledge to disprove his claim of a mistake?” asked Justice David Nahmias.

Justice Robert Benham said, “It’s not unusual for motorists to be nervous when they are pulled over by a police officer.”

Later, Benham said that having cash in hand when negotiating a purchase often results in a discount.

Justice Carol Hunstein picked up on the detail that Mordica had testified that he had changed his life and become a law-abiding citizen after serving his most recent, 12-year sentence for drugs in Florida but that he had not paid any taxes since his release 18 months before the traffic stop.

“It’s hard to make a lot of money to pay taxes on when you just got out of prison,” she said.

That’s when Assistant District Attorney Scott Johnson said Mordica owes tax on the confiscated money.

The justices have four months to decide the case, which will have it coming at the start of the next session of the General Assembly. Legislators put off voting on a change to weaken the state forfeiture law in the last session when nearly every county sheriff spent the day of the scheduled vote sitting in the House of Representatives gallery making their opposition obvious.

Those wanting to change the law say sheriffs too dependent on the confiscated cash often cut corners that violate motorists’ rights. The sheriffs say they follow the rules and that the money is needed for bulletproof vests and other necessities that tight county budgets don’t cover.

Comments (68) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
itsanotherday1
48406
Points
itsanotherday1 09/25/13 - 08:22 am
5
0
K9

I have all confidence that dogs are very accurate in sniffing out drugs, but there is a huge opportunity for misuse in getting probable cause for a search. All the handler really has to do is say he "hit" and the motorist or traveler is open for their car or baggage to be rifled through.

I fully believe the accused in this story is a lying, scumbag drug dealer; but you don't confiscate someone's cash on opinion.

seenitB4
98472
Points
seenitB4 09/25/13 - 08:25 am
3
0
Don't forget this

We have had BODY searches right along the side of a busy roadway...now THAT is something to get in a tizzy about....don't think I could allow a search when I know I haven't done a thing....& the money I carry should be my business.

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 09/25/13 - 08:29 am
4
0
Noc and HA...Heh. "Plus, the

Noc and HA...Heh. "Plus, the car smelled of air freshener, and he was on Interstate 75, a known route for drug dealers."

It must be some kind of synergistic effect. Driving on I-75 and having air freshener creates a criminal condition. Throw in some of that devil music or Willie Nelson and it's an automatic 10 year sentence.

Riverman1
94242
Points
Riverman1 09/25/13 - 08:31 am
3
0
SeenIt, I bet you would try

SeenIt, I bet you would try to entice them into a body cavity search and we are not talking third molars. :)

seenitB4
98472
Points
seenitB4 09/25/13 - 08:34 am
3
0
^^^ you so baddd RM

Only if we had a huge audience.....lol

nocnoc
49537
Points
nocnoc 09/25/13 - 09:17 am
1
0
seenitB4
98472
Points
seenitB4 09/25/13 - 09:16 am
1
0
Insane search cgee

I also posted on r/rs...throwing a cig caused search...many of us have pain meds with us too....does that warrant a dang search!!

http://rt.com/usa/texas-troopers-search-cavity-821/

GiantsAllDay
10555
Points
GiantsAllDay 09/25/13 - 09:21 am
4
2
So, people, it's been a day

So, people, it's been a day and a half since I made the first comment on this travesty of justice. This is one of the rare instances where my fellow citizens, from all parts of the political spectrum have come together. MyFather15 came on 4 different times to protest our outrage and used a LOT of ALL CAPS (as if that would help his cause) and received more down arrows in Augusta Chronicle history. But my friends (and this is tough love), much of the blame lies with us. We allowed this to happen. Somewhere along the line, we the people, must have allowed the police and the government this rediculous power. If the founding fathers could see this they would regret starting this country in the first place. Thier disappointment would be with us, as well as with the police/government. In MyFather15's frustration, he failed to mention everything I stated about police dogs. Yes, they are trained to sniff drugs. Yes, they are very good at it. But the police can lie to the judge that his dog "indicated". The police lie so much, it would make a used car salesman or a real estate agent blush. Even if the dog sniff takes place on camera, often the officer will take the dog to the front of the suspects car so the camera can only see the officer through the suspects windshield but not the dog. Then is when the officer says "whoa, my dog hit on something". These examples are all over YouTube, check it out. So my original comment stands. Use the police canine for noble purposes. Find a missing loved one and reunite a family. Find a dead corpse and allow a family to have closure. Chase down and capture a bad guy who is trying to get away. Do away with the corrupt cash seizures. Shame on the law for using an innocent beast who doesn't know any better. Involving a dog on a cash scam to feed your addiction for more $$$ to fund your evil designs is unconscionable.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 09/25/13 - 10:07 am
3
0
Tail His Behind

I'm with itsanotherday1 and River, he's a drug dealer, but it's just not a good bust. Letting some go is a worthy trade off to protect our rights as free citizens. Good cop, bad call.

Don't fret though, there will be other opportunities. Mr. Drug Dealer will do it again. He just can't stop himself.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 09/25/13 - 10:14 am
2
0
Yikes

Oh, my goodness, I agreed to a point with GAD:)

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 10:22 am
0
4
Ok, it's obvious people don't

Ok, it's obvious people don't like the law, I concede that. So go to your legislators and get in changed; because the Courts have upheld it, many times. As anyone knows, that has seen my comments; I'm NOT a fan of big governement, so I completely understand your concerns.

But use a little common sense. The examples given were a "German physician", "Floyd Mayweather"; who I beleive both of these would have no problem PROVING their income. I'm pretty sure if I stop Floyd Mayweather or Michael Jordan, and they've got a large sum of cash, it won't be taken. If it is, I'll have some explaining to do, to the big man!! Yes, I understand the point of "Why should they have to prove their income, when they've done nothing wrong."

I won't disagree with that, but you'll have to take that up with the courts.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 10:20 am
0
3
Humble Angela

When is the last time your boss paid you in cash over $10,000.00? I'm 40 years old and that's never happened to me. That's the entire point, these are events which are NEVER common and are VERY suspicious. I understand your discontent though about the situation.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 10:24 am
0
3
thauch

"To echo Ben Franklin, those who sacrifice liberty for "security" (because the war on drugs is working and making us safer....right) deserve neither."

I'm curious, do you feel the same way about the 2nd amendment? You might, I really don't know; but I am curious because that "War on drugs" part was NOT in Ben Franklin's statement.

GiantsAllDay
10555
Points
GiantsAllDay 09/25/13 - 10:38 am
4
0
Willow Bailey, You said you

Willow Bailey,
You said you agreed with me but prefaced it with a "yikes". It's ok for us to agree with each other once in a while. It doesn't cost anything and it has no calories or carbs. :-)

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 09/25/13 - 10:43 am
2
2
My point is, it is no one's
Unpublished

My point is, it is no one's business how much cash I have, or how it smells. If there is no crime, there is no crime. It is not MY responsibility to prove I'm not a criminal. Suspicion is one thing, but in these cases, there was only suspicion...and they took the money anyway. THAT is wrong.

thauch12
7076
Points
thauch12 09/25/13 - 10:55 am
3
2
MF, that WAS a SIDE comment.

MF, that WAS a SIDE comment. I assumed SOMEONE of YOUR intelligence (A well-respected SCHOLAR of LAW and THEOLOGY with PLENTY of LOFTY academic CREDENTIALS) would HAVE picked UP on THAT, my APOLOGIES.

Unfortunately I'm not in the mood to type like a two year old, neither is it worth my time to engage another one of your irrelevant arguments. You may want to look into writing a book about straw man arguments though!

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 02:22 pm
0
4
Ok, I get the point already!!

Ok, I get the point already!! It's perfectly fine for people to make large sums of money and profit, selling narcotics to others and assisting in ruining their lives. We shouldn't take their money and make them prove they have a documented income. Point taken!!

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 02:24 pm
0
3
Thauch

You still didn't answer the question of whether you apply that to the 2nd amendment.

P.S. It wouldn't take a long comment.

burninater
9943
Points
burninater 09/25/13 - 03:58 pm
1
0
"Ok, I get the point

"Ok, I get the point already!! It's perfectly fine for people to make large sums of money and profit, selling narcotics to others and assisting in ruining their lives. We shouldn't take their money and make them prove they have a documented income."
--------
Clearly, you don't get the point. Police have no authority to 1) make criminal findings, or 2) determine something is confiscatable evidence of a crime for which no charges have been filed.

If this logic is upheld, that possession of any legal object in quantities greater than the average person possesses indicates criminality, then there will be nothing preventing police from confiscating weapons from a gun collector. After all, the average American doesn't possess or transport a sizable arsenal, so clearly gun collectors are actually traffickers, or terrorists -- until they can demonstrate the legitimate provenance of each item in their collection. And until they can demonstrate the legitimacy of their collection, the police will have every right to confiscate that collection without filing any related charges.

Get the point yet?

GiantsAllDay
10555
Points
GiantsAllDay 09/25/13 - 03:45 pm
2
1
MyFather15

Go back to the donut shop OK and regroup with your buddies. What's sad for you is there are other amendments after the 2nd. WHOOPS!! Did you only read the first and second?? I never thought I would have to break this to MyFather15..... yes, sorry there are amendments after the first and second. And this guy gets to be a cop? SMH

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 04:47 pm
1
3
Burn

Ever heard of a firearms dealers LICENSE? Maybe the drug dealers should apply for a license to deal drugs, so they can carry large sums of cash for their business ventures.

Has anyone mentioned CRIMINALITY on here, when it comes to large sums of money? Nope, not that I've seen. You aren't CHARGED with any crime if found with a large sum of cash. BUT, the cash is held until you've proven your income or where the cash came from (lottery, inheritance, etc.) Nobody is going to jail over carrying a large sum of cash; at least until the IRS get's involved and you can't show where you've made the money or where you paid taxes on it. Now, as I've stated, I support people's suspicions of more and more government power; that I have no problem with.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 04:59 pm
0
3
Giants

First of all, your intentional distortion of the truth (in otherwords, LYING) in your earlier comment; doesn't really warrant a response; but I want to address it anyway.

When you said "and received more down arrows in Augusta Chronicle history." This is laughable!! Honestly, it is!!

I checked; the most thumbs down I got on this one (so far) is 9. You've gotten more thumbs down on MANY of your comments!! Want me to prove it?

Now, moving past the personal stuff; I realize I'm not in the majority on this and I accept it. As I've stated, I completely understand people's hesitation to trust ANY government agency (although it's weird how much leftists trust everything the Dictator in office does), including police.

Now, Giants; instead of personal childish attacks (donut shop) maybe you should LEARN something. The Supreme Court has ruled in this matter that it's legal to confiscate and hold LARGE sums of currency, until the owner can prove it was legally obtained.

Now, I also realize many on here and throughout the Country do not like this ruling; so write your congressmen and women and get it changed; or just do nothing and keep complaining on news website. Until a higher court rules that this is unconstitutional, then it will continue to happen; even at the objections of Giantsallday and his assertions that police lie ALL the time, every time.

GiantsAllDay
10555
Points
GiantsAllDay 09/25/13 - 05:34 pm
2
1
MyFather15, you have still

MyFather15, you have still haven't answered the questions on here. I have one. How do you sleep at night? I never said the cops lie all the time--just a lot of the time. If you have never lied in the course of your job-- good for you. My problem with the government has nothing to do with you. You seem to be one of the good ones. Few and far between--that is you--so be proud of that. I just ask you--repent of your sins--ask an apology of your fellow citizens--keep your guns if you want to--be a school teacher or similar. Maybe the god u believe in will someday somehow forgive u.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 06:14 pm
0
1
Giants

08/12/2013; an article titled "Deputy fired after investigation into teens injuries" Giantsallday gets 17, count them SEVENTEEN thumbs down for a comment.

08/13/2013; an article titled "Roundtree defends decision to Fire officer" Giantsallday gets 11 thumbs down for a comment.

09/01/2013; an article titled "Christians need to be strong" Giantsallday gets 10 thumbs down on a comment.

And these are just what I found in about 3 minutes of looking. Want more?

Also, I realize you get a lot of thumbs down because you're a liberal leaning person in a conservative area. Most of your comments get more thumbs down, than thumbs up. But I also realize this is due to us being in a conservative area. If we were commenting on the Boston Globe, I'm sure I would get more downers than you.

My point is, the thumbs responses really mean nothing, it's all relative to where the outlet is located. But stop distorting the truth, in trying to attack someone. I have my opinion and you have yours, that's it. My opinion on THIS article is NOT in line the the vast majority of those on here. I understand and accept that.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 05:35 pm
1
1
I actually sleep quite

I actually sleep quite comfortable. You would be amazed at how a Serta Perfect Sleeper will help you rest at night.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 05:43 pm
2
1
"I just ask you--repent of

"I just ask you--repent of your sins--ask an apology of your fellow citizens--keep your guns if you want to--be a school teacher or similar. Maybe the god u believe in will someday somehow forgive u."

I'm not sure what you're saying. I'm suppose to ask my fellow citizens to apologize, for what? I will never asked them to apologize for their opinion, especially when they could be right and I could be absolutely wrong. We must always LEARN. I only tried to calm them by explaining the process of how this works and assure them that regular law abiding citizens are not affected. They heard my comment and disagree with it, plain and simple. They don't like law enforcement being able to take currency without large amounts of drugs found, I understand that and respect it. End of story.

You believe I might be one of the good guys, but you think I need to leave the profession? So what? You want a good guy to leave, so more bad guys can replace him?

burninater
9943
Points
burninater 09/25/13 - 05:49 pm
1
1
Ever heard of a firearms

"Ever heard of a firearms dealers LICENSE? Maybe the drug dealers should apply for a license to deal drugs, so they can carry large sums of cash for their business ventures."
------
Myfather, you keep missing the point. The case being discussed didn't involve a drug-related conviction. It didn't even involve drug-related CHARGES.

"You aren't CHARGED with any crime if found with a large sum of cash. BUT, the cash is held until you've proven your income or where the cash came from (lottery, inheritance, etc.)"
--------
This insistence that the police should have the authority to take ANYONE'S property, AT ANY TIME, until a person proves that property is their own, is mind-boggling. It is also completely unconstitutional.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 06:12 pm
1
1
Burninator

On your last paragraph, I will not argue with that point. As I stated, I can completely understand people's feeling on that part. I struggle with that aspect as well. But the Courts have upheld it and it will continue to happen; just like IRS audits will continue to happen. Why should I get audited and have to prove my income?

If I buy a $500,000.00 house on a deputies salary, why should they be allowed to investigate that? I promise you, they will. I'm not saying I agree with it or disagree, I'm just saying it WILL happen.

Quite a few years ago, we preformed a search warrant on a big drug dealers house. We got good information he had narcotics and large sums of money buried in the woods behind his back yard. When we hit the house, it was bad timing because he had sold all his dope and had not "ReUped" yet. We had been watching this house for several weeks and all the traffic going in and out. We planned the search warrant on a Friday, thinking he would have "ReUped" for the weekend sales.

We didn't find a single piece of dope but did find residue and paraphanalia. What we did find was $365,000.00 in currency buried in the woods behind his house. Now, this guy was about 33 years old and hadn't held a steady job in his life. His family was poor so he didn't get it from them and he hadn't won the lottery. He was living in a single wide trailer that was NOT in good shape. Why would he live in such conditions when he has over 1/4 of a million dollars hidden? Because if he bought a nice house and paid cash for it, you can bet your butt the IRS would be all over him. Being unemployed, if he made payments on a nice house; it would draw attention and he could get audited and have to show his income.

All I'm saying is, believe it or not; right or wrong, there are many situations in this Free Country that you might be REQUIRED, not asked; to prove your income. It happens all the time. When you pay your taxes, you're giving the government a RECORDED, DOCUMENTED way of tracking you and your spending. If they see you're paying taxes on luxury items like boats, SUV's, RV's, etc; but see you're income isn't enough to reasonable afford those items, they will audit you in a heartbeat.

Now, once again; I'm not saying I agree or disagree with your opinion and everyone elses opinion of that.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 06:19 pm
1
0
Burn

I don't think I'm missing the point. I realize you and the majority on here believe under NO circumstance should any government representative be able to seize personal property, including currency; without proof they are dealing drugs or other criminal activity. I get it and understand and to a certain degree, I agree. But being personally involved in many of these scenarios, I KNOW this is not happening by law enforcment officers, to REGULAR LAW ABIDING CITIZENS.

If it were, I would NEVER take part in this and would blow a LARGE whistle on the operation. So, I suppose that's why I support this more so than most on here. Again, I absolutely could be wrong about supporting this, I'll have to give it some deep thought. With so many people in opposition, It's something to seriously reconsider. But, I have no power to stop the practice, as you know. That would be the legislators.

myfather15
57250
Points
myfather15 09/25/13 - 06:20 pm
1
0
Now, having said that;

I'm done commenting for the day. I'll check this thread in the morning and comment accordingly. You all have a good night.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Christmas Eve rains to dry up

If Wednesday seemed particularly wet and dreary, you would be right. The day broke the record for the wettest Christmas Eve that Augusta has ever had.
Search Augusta jobs