Luther Ricks and his wife worked most of their lives at a steel foundry in Ohio. Not trusting of banks, they say they’ve lived frugally, and managed to save more than $400,000 over the years, which they kept in a safe in their home.
Last summer, two burglars broke into Ricks’ home. He shot and killed one of them. Police determined he acted in self-defense, and cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing. But local police did find a small amount of marijuana in Ricks’ home, which Ricks says he uses to manage the pain of his arthritis and a hip replacement surgery. Ricks was never charged for the marijuana. But finding it in his home was enough for city police to confiscate Ricks and his wife’s life savings under drug war asset forfeiture laws. Oddly enough, the FBI then stepped in, and claimed the money for itself.
Consistent with asset forfeiture laws, the federal government now says Ricks has to prove he earned the money legitimately in order to get it back. Of course, he doesn’t have dated receipts going back thirty-plus years. And he can’t hire a lawyer—the government has of his money.
Also, under asset forfeiture laws, even if Ricks were able to prove in court that he earned the money legitimately, he, not the government, would have to absorb the court costs.