Missouri police departments do an end-run around strict state asset forfeiture requirements and skim millions of dollars from Missouri schools using a federal loophole to circumvent state law.
Missouri has some of the most strict asset forfeiture laws in the country. Prosecutors must get a conviction or a guilty plea before they can proceed with asset forfeiture, and all forfeiture proceeds must go the state’s public education fund.
But according to the ACLU, of the $19 million in cash and property seized by Missouri law enforcement since 2015, only $340,000 made its way into school funds. In 2016, law enforcement agencies only sent $100,000 to public schools, even though seized $6.3 million worth of property.
So, how are Missouri law enforcement agencies skirting state law and pocketing millions in cash?
A federal program known as “Equitable Sharing” allows prosecutors to bypass more stringent state asset forfeiture laws by simply passing cases off to the federal government. Using a process known as “adoption,” state and local law enforcement agencies circumvent more strict state forfeiture laws by claiming cases are federal in nature. Under these arrangements, state officials simply hand cases over to a federal agency, participate in the case, and then receive up to 80 percent of the proceeds….