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Can Georgia police keep confiscating cash?

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 10:03 AM
Last updated 6:20 PM
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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 (69) Add comment
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oldredneckman96
5095
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oldredneckman96 09/26/13 - 07:57 am
1
0
Crime by cash
Unpublished

Let’s see if the AC takes this down. The law that is being used to take cash dates back to the civil war when the Fed enacted laws to take property of Southerners. They took Robert E Lee’s home and made Arlington Cemetery. Of course like all federal laws, this law has been expanded to take anything from anyone at anytime. Apparently the AC did not like to hear why the Civil War was started.

Sean Moores
525
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Sean Moores 09/26/13 - 10:04 am
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@oldredneckman

I'm not sure what you're talking about. None of your comments were removed.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 10:52 am
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1
My last comment was Sean, but

My last comment was Sean, but that's Ok.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 11:08 am
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2
I was told it was "getting

I was told it was "getting into insult territory" but Thauch's last comment is NOT insulting? We all know exactly what he or she was doing.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 11:19 am
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2
So, since some are very

So, since some are very sensitive; I'll remove the only part I could see as insulting and repost,

Thauch,

Man, you really are good at diverting attention, aren't you? You manage to sit there, belittling law enforcement officers, attacking me and you STILL didn't answer the question of whether you agree with that pesky 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, which was the question posed to start this!! Wow are you good at avoiding the question and diverting peoples attention away from it!! (Applause for thauch)

Now, since YOU brought up the Constitution; ANSWER the question!! Because your excuses don't make sesne. You said before you weren't taking the time to comment on my question; yet since you said that, you've taken the time to type two OTHER comments, but yet still haven't addressed a simple YES or NO question. How long does it take to answer a yes or no question? Could you not have included your answer in the last comment?

Maybe you forgot the question, so I pose it again;

Do you fully support the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution? Yes or No?

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 11:02 am
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2
Thauch

Also, my comment about the THUMBS, was in RESPONSE to someone else blantantly distorting the TRUTH; in order to demean me. I feel my response was appropriate, in that I was only pointing out their inaccuracies.

So, THEY brought up the subject of thumbs and I only RESPONDED. Sorry you think it's trivial, but I wasn't addressing you, so why do you feel the need to address that and STILL not answer a question directed straight to you? I'll check back for your response and hopefully an answer to the question I posed to you.

GiantsAllDay
9695
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GiantsAllDay 09/26/13 - 11:29 am
2
1
It looks like my comment got

It looks like my comment got removed by the censors. If you feel passionate about society being horrifically wronged by its government the AC will shut you down. Bummer. The AC prints an article, makes us pay to read it, then says it is wrong to have feelings about it. Way to stay classy, Augusta Chronicle!

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 11:16 am
0
2
Oh wait. maybe some ARE the top of the class!!

"These weren't the kids who graduated top of their class and went on to America's finest colleges. These were more likely the kids who sniffed a little too much glue when they were younger and liked to bully the other kids on the playground."

NY Police Officer with TWO Harvard degrees; gives Harvard Commencement Speech!!

http://www.lawofficer.com/video/news/nypd-officer-delivers-harvard

Man, the dishonestly and lack of integrity with these cops that forgo a lucrative career to serve and protect!!

Oh, by the way; there is also a local Deputy Sheriff in the CSRA who has a doctoral degree and licensed to practice medicine; yet he ALSO choose to pursue a career in law enforcement. I know him personally but will not disclose his name on here.

GiantsAllDay
9695
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GiantsAllDay 09/26/13 - 11:24 am
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Arthur Fonzerella, AKA "the

Arthur Fonzerella, AKA "the Fonz" the hood on Happy Days dropped out of high school and his life long dream was to become a cop. He stated, "what other job do they pay you to carry a gun and ride a motorcycle"? I think Fonzie summed it up pretty well.

Sean Moores
525
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Sean Moores 09/26/13 - 11:48 am
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TOS

Follow our terms of service and your comments won't be removed. Don't attack or insult other commenters.

Sean Moores
525
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Sean Moores 09/26/13 - 11:57 am
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@ MyFather 11:08

Report comments like that. I missed it. It is removed now.

Sean Moores
525
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Sean Moores 09/26/13 - 11:58 am
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Tone it down

To everyone involved, tone it down.
You don't have to converse with anyone on our site, but if you do, you have to be respectful.

thauch12
6739
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thauch12 09/26/13 - 12:09 pm
1
1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man
See above. In choosing to ignore the fact that I included the words "more likely," and instead speaking to the point as if I used the word "all," what you see above is the classic straw man argument. Namely, one that distorts my words in the hope that the casual reader will overlook it.

That and 1.5 examples (.5 being "I know a guy...") is hardly damning evidence of anything when you look at the reality of the situation. But again, it's all part of a terrible straw man argument.

thauch12
6739
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thauch12 09/26/13 - 12:15 pm
2
2
And amen Giants. Comments, no

And amen Giants. Comments, no matter how extreme or personally offensive, will not be removed from the AC website so long as your views fall into one of the following categories: Extreme Biblical literalism, Obama is Satan, the government should personally provide guns to every citizen, or you're "bffls" with the censor. Don't fall out of the party line!

Sean Moores
525
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Sean Moores 09/26/13 - 01:13 pm
0
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I don't care

I don't care what your political slant is. I remove more right-leaning comments than left-leaning (because we have more right-leaning commenters.) If you insult another commenter, I will remove the comment. If you can't have a conversation without insulting people who disagree with you, you can't comment on our site. If you want to continue with complaints about comment moderation, do it on R&R because it is off topic for this story.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 05:55 pm
1
1
Thauch

"Guess what myfather...you and your colleagues aren't the IRS! If I want to drive around with $1,000,000 in cash, it's none of your business"

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

First of all, I have admitted and conceded that my OPINION on this matter is NOT with the majority; and I can understand why.

Second, you were the one made this personal (sorta) when you specifically address me; when I had done nothing but attempt to explain WHY this is done, whether you agree with it or not.

Third, you are the one brought Ben Franklins quote (One of my favorites and one I use quite often) into the argument. So I address ONE aspect of that quote that believe IS relevant, since YOU brought it up. When his quote is talking about people's RIGHTS, you can't believe that is applies to THIS argument about seizing cash, but NOT believe it applies to the 2nd amendment. As a matter of fact, when speaking specifically about SECURITY, his quote would BETTER apply to the 2nd Amendment, than to an arument about seizing cash and requiring the owner to prove where it came from. Because firearms, are millions of American's security. I was just curious if YOU support citizens rights to bare arms; in order to provide themselves security; it's a simple question.

So, I asked you a specific question whether you believe his quote applies to the 2nd Amendment. Instead of answering, you choose to attack me and make non-sensical excuses for why you won't answer; even claiming you won't take the time, but still you took time to make numerous other comments, instead of answering a yes or no question.

Then, (Talk about straw man arguments) you go off on some rant about people thinking "the government should personally provide guns to every citizen"; which I've NEVER seen another human being make that argument. We have NEVER asked the government to supply us with guns, just to abide by the 2nd amendment and not interfere with our RIGHTS to bare arms.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 02:09 pm
0
2
"The police lie so much, it

"The police lie so much, it would make a used car salesman or a real estate agent blush."

"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."

"Go back to the donut shop OK and regroup with your buddies."

I suppose it's comments like these that get me relatively fired up, because I'm actually not all that fired up.

But, when I see dispicable comments like these, towards the law enforcement profession; I take SOME offense, and I say SOME because I've had worse said to my face. But, I feel some NEED to refute these allegations, because I know first hand these comments are NOT accurate of law enforcement.

The VAST majority of law enforcement officers are honorable men and women!! We do NOT lie so often a "used car salesman" would blush. As a matter of fact, we are some of the MOST honorable men and women in society. Most have served their Country in the military, to leave there and join service in another form. Many also possess college degrees and COULD have sought more lucrative careers. But people like Thauch, who try to belittle officer's intelligence, speak from a lack of knowledge. They speak from a personal discontent of law enforcement, evident in MANY of their comments. So, I feel almost a duty to respond to these ridiculous comments, utilizing common sense to to show just how ridiculous these comments are.

We CAN disagree on the original topic of this discussion, without childishly attacking a profession that keeps us all safe. I respected law enforcement BEFORE I became one and I respect it even more now, because I know how hard this profession is. Yes, I have some discontent for those who would belittle and demean the profession as a whole, with false allegations.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/26/13 - 02:14 pm
0
2
"That and 1.5 examples (.5

"That and 1.5 examples (.5 being "I know a guy...") is hardly damning evidence of anything when you look at the reality of the situation. But again, it's all part of a terrible straw man argument."

Exactly what IS the "Reality of the situation"?

Since YOU made the allegation that law enforcement officers are basically stupid, uneducated and not the sharpest tool in the shed; shouldn't the burden of Proof lie upon YOU to prove this? I didn't attack YOUR profession and accuse them of being ignorant; all I did was post an example of an officer with two Harvard degrees.

But far be it from a liberal progressive to PROVE their allegations and we certainly shouldn't ask them to do so, that's asking too much.

ex_augusta_resident
2
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ex_augusta_resident 09/27/13 - 12:24 pm
0
0
No proof? What now?

The argument for seizure of cash over $10k is that you have to prove where you got the $$$. I have a fundamental problem with that, however even if you accept that premise there are times where proof is lacking outside of illegal activity. Say, for example, you are returning from a gambling trip at a legal casino and happen to win over $10k. According to the law as it is practiced in this case, you would not get your $$$ back.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/27/13 - 02:14 pm
0
1
Boy, mine and Gad's little

Boy, mine and Gad's little diagreement has Sean striking comments right and left.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/27/13 - 02:28 pm
0
1
ex-augusta-resident

Ok, let me make this clear; I completely understand people NOT trusting this practice. Just want to make that perfectly clear.

Also, if you win a large amount of money in Vegas; they do record your name and information for documentation. It can be verified.

But, if you just won a bunch of money at Las Vegas and you're crazy enough to drive long distance with that cash in your vehicle, you get what you deserve!! If someone robs you; that money is GONE forever!! There is no getting it back, unless the robbers are found and STILL have the cash on them.

You should absolutely get a cashiers check, money order, wire the money or ANYTHING else besides carry cash money for long distance. It's absolutely absurd to carry over 10k on your person, because you never know what is going to happen. What if your in a wreck and seriously injured? There will be MANY people on the scene; EMS, firefighters, law enforcement, bystanders, etc.

I've worked several serious wrecks where property came up missing and it could have been anyone who took it. As a matter of fact, recently we had a fatality and the family claimed there was a pistol in the vehicle with the deceased. His vehicle was struck by an 18 wheeler and it rolled numerous times before coming to a stop. The pistol could have flown out the window on any of the rolls. We went back to the scene but never found it. Still don't know where it went. You want to risk losing THOUSANDS of dollars in cash?

But, I can also understand people saying it's none of law enforcement's business how much they carry; I do understand that.

See, drugs dealers DO NOT do any of those above, because all of those create documentation and PAPER TRAILS; that the feds can pick up on and use against them, when making cases. Drug dealers almost always deal in CASH!! Drug dealers do NOT use banks, Western unions or anything that documents their names to large sums of money.

Now, we have experienced them getting those temporary debit cards that you can place like a couple thousand dollars on. Then use it like an ATM. They will buy 10 of them, put 2000 apiece on them; then drive to Atlanta to purchase narcotics. They just take the money out once they are there.

thauch12
6739
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thauch12 09/27/13 - 03:20 pm
1
0
Use a bit of common

Use a bit of common sense.
Most halfway intelligent people, myself included, see that it is pointless to further engage this kind of drivel. Believe what you will but reality is reality. That's all I have to say about this subject.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/27/13 - 03:57 pm
1
1
Why do you insist on

Why do you insist on continuing to demean MY intelligence, just because you disagree with me? It makes no sense.

Especially since you are obviously still checking this old article, to see what people are saying; it's the only logical explanation for coming here and making a comment; since this article isn't even visible on the front page anymore. You had to INTENTIONALLY come here to check it.

Then, you demean my intelligence, for basically doing the exact same thing you're doing. So common sense needs to go both ways.

Yes, I have to admit; it gets on my nerves when people believe they possess superior intelligence, simply because the other person disagrees with them. Then, they audaciously broadcast that belief, by demeaning the other's intelligence. It's absolutely ridiculous. If you want to check, I haven't attacked anyone's intelligence, simply stated my beliefs on this matter, even stating I realize my beliefs are NOT in line with the majority. I realize my personal opinions on this could very well be wrong. I believe firmly in the Constitution.

This petty argument started, because YOU and Giant's decided to start with the personal attacks that I quoted above, and here you are continuing with those demeaning comments.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 09/28/13 - 11:56 am
0
0
No response, just a thumbs

No response, just a thumbs down; Typical.

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