Houston Federal Judge Invents New Kind of Asset Forfeiture

When the Feds can use your truck in a sting operation, get it riddled with bullet holes, and pay you nothing, it is simply another form of asset forfeiture.

Here is how Andy Vickery, a lawyer for a trucking company owner, Craig Patty, described a judge’s decision to the Houston Chronicle:

A federally deputized corporal from the Houston Police Department decides to pay your small company’s driver to drive your truck to the Mexican border, load it up with illegal drugs, and try to catch some bad guys.   He knows that the driver is lying to “the owner” – although he doesn’t know your name or identity and doesn’t bother to find out.   The bad guys outwit the cops.   Your company’s driver is killed.   Your truck is riddled with bullet holes.

 Query:   is our federal government liable to pay for the damages to you and your property?

 Answer:   Nope.

According to the Chronicle,

A Houston-based federal judge ruled that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration does not owe the owner of a small Texas trucking company anything, not even the cost of repairing the bullet holes to a tractor-trailer truck that the agency used without his permission for a wild 2011 drug cartel sting that resulted in the execution-style murder of the truck’s driver, who was secretly working as a government informant.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, which was made public late Monday, heads off a potentially embarrassing civil trial that was supposed to start early next month at the federal courthouse.

Andy Vickery, a lawyer representing trucking company, said he was floored by the ruling.

“She is basically saying you can’t sue the feds,” he said by phone.

Forget about the pure, shameless robbery involved. What about the risk of being murdered? If you know that your drugs branded with your business logo have been used to betray drug cartels, and that one of your drivers was executed, wouldn’t you need to worry about the cartel considering you involved in that betrayal? No wonder Craig Patty says that he and his family are terrified about retaliation. In fact, one reason for the lawsuit is to make sure the facts get aired publicly so that no one thinks he was involved in the sting operation.

[See also, “DEA Robs Man for Carrying Money while Black.”]

Naturally, Patty’s insurance company refused to pay for repairs to the truck since they do not insure business vehicles to be used in police business.

Not only is the judge’s ruling a crime of plunder, but the fact that an alleged “law enforcement” agency would refuse to pay in the first place proves that they are a lawless gang.

Fred Shepherd, who worked with Vickery on the case, said his client is astonished that he has no recourse.

“It is not just that you can’t sue the federal government, but that fed law enforcement agencies under this ruling can use anybody’s property to do anything they want to further their law enforcement mission and not have to go get the permission from the owner of the property to do it.”

Everything we have now belongs to them.