An Oklahoma police officer seized $53,000 in charity money from a Christian rock band after suspecting the money was drug-related.
According to Relevant Magazine, the law allows police officers to seize cash and assets from people whom they suspect of criminal activities. In many states, the police can then keep the assets even if the suspect is never charged.
It all started late February when Burmese refugee and band member Eh Wah was driving to Texas after touring with his Christian rock band Klo & Kweh Music Team. The tour had been raising funds for a Myanmar Christian college and a Thailand orphanage.
Wah was pulled over in Muskogee County, Oklahoma for a broken taillight, but he was also traveling on a road “notorious for drug dealings,” according to reports.
“"I just couldn't believe it,” Wah told The Washington Post. “An officer was telling me that 'you are going to jail tonight.' And I don’t know what to think. What did I do that would make me go to jail? I didn’t do anything. Why is he saying that?"
Wah was brought in for questioning and police assumed the money was from drugs. He was later charged with the felony of “acquiring proceeds of drug activity.”
The Institute for Justice has since taken up Wah’s case. The criminal charges were dropped. The county is expected to mail a check to Wah soon.
"This sort of thing is happening all the time," said Dan Alban, a lawyer with the institute. “[The band was] raising all this money for charity, getting a few thousand bucks here and there. Months on the road and then all their money is taken away because Eh Wah's car has a broken tail light in Muskogee County."
Publication date: April 27, 2016