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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
March 21, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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March 21, 2012

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_ - _ • • Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, March 21, 2012 9B at not to LEGAL MUSINGS STEVE BRENNEMAN Earlier this year, 49-year- old Martin Chavez was ar- rested for possession of ille- gal narcotics. Chavez was found at a bus terminal in Weed with a suitcase con- taining 12 individually wrapped packages of methamphetamine with a street value in excess of $1 million. When asked about the suitcase, Chavez admit- ted it belonged to him but claimed he didn't know what was inside it. I don't often give advice to criminals, but if the cops find you standing next to a suitcase containing illegal narcotics, your only real shot at avoiding arrest is to deny ownership. Of course, if you were careless enough to pack personal items in the same suitcase that can be traced to you, you're pretty much out of luck. Admitting the suitcase be- longs to you but denying any with a p.ile f drug mon knowledge of what's insideso without your permission, couple hundred dollars onbegan civil forfeiture proceed- answer cross-examination is pretty much a non-starter. Such probable cause may my person at any one time. I ings against the money. Fed- questions about it. If a wit- Sure, Chavez may have been come from the nature of the suspect most people are the eral law provides that money hess does so, his direct testi- a paid courier transporting packaging, the way you'resame. "furnished or intended to be mony may be stricken. the suitcase to LA, no ques- acting, a tip from a reliable On Jan. 6, 2009: Officer furnished by any person in That is what the trial tions asked. But who's going informant or an alert from a Craft of the Arizona Depart- exchange for a controlled sub- court did in this case. The to believe he didn't know the drug-sniffing dog. ment of Public Safety made a stance" and "all proceedscourt struck Louis' asser- suitcase contained drugs or Taking the approach of Mr. traffic stop of Damon Louis traceable to such an ex- tion that he "owned" the other illegal substances? Chavez -- admitting ownec- for failing to use a turn sig- change" are subject to forfei- money based on his refusal Another piece of advice: If ship of the package but feign- hal. During the stop, Craft ture. Forfeited morley be- to answer where he got it. you're going to transport $1 Lag ignorance of its contents led his dog around the vehi- comes the property of the gov- This left only his initial claim that he had "an own- million worth of drugs, don't -- is like admitting to your cle, and the dog, who wasernment. takea bus. Especially a bus wife you visited a prostitute specially trained to detect il- A forfeiture case is pretty ership and/or possessory in- terest" in the money. The departing from a town but insisting all you did was legal drugs, gave an alert, much a slam dunk when named "Weed." talk to her about the weath- Craft then searched the there's nobody around to court concluded this equivo- cal assertion, without any Anyone found |n close er. It's not going to come out trunk and found three card- claim ownership of the men- supporting information, was proximity to a package con- well for you. board boxes, one of whichey. But in United States of not sufficient to support his taLaLag contraband is faced But what if the package contained $133,420 in cash. America v. $133,420 in United claim to the money. Owner- with two choices: deny any does not contain an illegal Craft suspected the moneyStates currency, Damon Louis ship is sufficient by itself. connection with the package substance but only evidence was proceeds of illegal drug decided not to give up without However, mere possession is or admit ownership. If you of criminal activity? There sales and took Louis to the a fight. He filed a claim in the not sufficient unless the pos- deny ownership, and there's are certain items that can Flagstaff police station for action asserting "an owner- session is lawful. A robber nobody else around to claim have both legal and illegal questioning. Louis admitted ship and/or a possessory in- may possess money but not the package, the authorities uses. The most obvious ofknowing the money was in terest in" the money, have a right to it. The court are free to search it. The these is currency, the trunk but did not claim During the discovery phase granted summary judgment contraband inside will be Many years ago, I needed it was his. The officers re- of the case, Louis was asked to the government, and the found and seized. That won't to transfer $3,000 from an ac- leased Louis but kept thethe extent of his interest in Court of Appeal affirmed. make you very popular with count in one bank to a joint money, the money and how he ac- The lesson here is pretty your supplier. To make mat- account with my daughter This may be a sign of thequired it. In response, Louis clear: you can't have your ters worse, the authorities in another. The bank toldtimes. With governments indicated he "owned" the cake and eat it too. Either probably won't buy your de- me they could issue a everywhere facing budget money but asserted his Fifth the stuff in the package is nial of ownership and will • cashier's check for a fee of problems, the authoritiesAmendment right not to an- yours or it's not. If it's arrest you anyway. $30. Since the other bankmay have considered it more swer how he acquired it. yours, and it's illegal contra- If, instead, you admit own- was only a few blocks away, expedient to let Louis go, A witness has a constitu-band, you're subject to pros- ership of the package, you I opted instead to take the thereby avoiding the ex- tional right not to testify if ecution. If it's not yours, you can then deny permission to money in cash and carry it pense of prosecution and that testimony might in- give up any right to it. If, search it. But if the authori- to the other bank. Other punishment, but keep the criminate him. However, alike Damon Louis, the au- ties otherwise have probable than that one occasion, I've money, witness cannot testify about thorities let you walk, don't cause to search, they can do never carried more than aAt any rate, the government a subject but then refuse to look back. • • • The California Fish and In accordance with Assem-hard work," said John vision inNovember 2011, the groups, landowners, marine closely involved with the Wildlife Strategic Vision bly Bill 2376 the interimLaird, secretary for natural committee's Stakeholder Ad- interests and nonprofit con- process and provided clarity Executive Committee unani-strategic vision aims to resources and chair of the visory Group and Blue Rib- servationorganizations, where needed during the dis- mously adopted an interim help set the stage for these executive committee, ben Citizen Commission The citizen commission cussions. strategic vision for Califor- agencies to successfully "Their efforts will help us have held numerous meet- members provide policy, Department staff made nia's fish and wildlife agen- take on the challenges ofimprove and enhance theseings. to prepare recommen- management and fiscal ex-suggestions for the docu- cies. The strategic vision}the 21st century. The docu- organizations' capacity and dations made to the execu- pertise, and strategic prob- ment that highlight protect- aims to guide the California ment is available at effectiveness for protecting tire committee, lem solving skills to assist ing ecosystems, empowering Department of Fish and, and managing the state's The 49-member stake- the executive committee in and supportingDFG employ- Game (DFG) and the Calffor- "I would like to thank fish and wildlife." holder group represents 17 developing the strategic vi- ees, and creating greater co- nia Fish and Game Commis- everyone involved in the Since the release of the different interest areas, in- slon. operation through open com- sion. process to date for all their draft interim strategic cluding fishing and hunting DFG employees have been munication. 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