Working with the feds, the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Police Department set up a fraudulent payment processing business for online poker players. They then took the players’ money, under false pretenses, and deposited it in the federal government’s asset forfeiture fund. Complaining players, none of whom were ever charged with a crime, were told they’d have to try to recoup their losses from the poker sites, which of course have now had their assets seized in a separate federal investigation, and which never actually saw the money from these particular players, anyway.
Under federal “adoption” policy, any local police department working with the federal government in a criminal investigation gets to keep up to 80 percent of the property it seizes in that investigation. And once the feds get involved, the whole thing officially becomes a federal investigation, which allows local police departments to skirt state laws aimed at protecting citizens from forfeiture abuse.
In this case, the Anne Arundel Police Department bagged $30 million
seized stolen from online poker players. They celebrated with a press conference and oversized novelty check. They’ll use the money to buy some cool new police equipment. Let’s hope it’s for more SWAT gear, so they can feel a bit safer the 150 times each year Anne Arundel County SWAT teams are deployed, most of the time to serve search warrants that result in misdemeanor charges.
I love the line from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore: “The government is not going to give the money to gamblers.” Except for the working stiff who finally wins $100 after spending $500/month on the state lottery for 10 years. Then the government will gladly give money to gamblers. Because they know they’ll get it right back.