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Above the Law
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Have you ever been arrested in the city of Chicago? If so, was it between February of 2002 and December of 2004? If you answered yes to both of the above questions, then pay close attention to the next question? Did the arresting officer confiscate any money that was on your person? If so, chances are you didnít get it back!

On January 14, 2003, one Elton Gates was arrested in the city of Chicago. He had $113 on his person. It was confiscated at the time of his arrest. Gates pleaded guilty to his charge and was placed on probation for the period of two years. He visited the police departmentís evidence section and presented them with a receipt to retrieve his confiscated money. They refused to return that which rightfully belonged to him, but agreed to surrender his belongings if he obtained the signature of his arresting officer. He made numerous attempts to do so, but each attempt proved unsuccessful. The departmentís negligence to do what was right prompted a visit to the office of Thomas Peters. Heís an attorney. On Monday, September 11, 2006, Thomas Peters filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. It contends that the city confiscated an estimated $25 million in cash (although itís believed to be closer to $50 million) from people who were arrested. These confiscated monies were never returned to those arrested.

Logic would lead one to ask, ďWell, where did the money go?Ē According to the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (a law created in 1954) these monies are to be distributed to the state treasurer. In turn, the state treasurer applies these monies to pension funds, specifically targeted towards retired teachers, judges, state workers, university employees, and state legislators. But, the state treasurer never received the confiscated funds from the Chicago Police Department.

Why? Well, according to Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the City Corporation Counselís office, the UDUPA law of 1954 doesnít apply to the Chicago Police Department. That sounds familiar. Instead the CPD relies upon the Law Enforcement Disposition of Property Act, which conveniently states that abandoned property may be disposed of by law enforcement officials.

That would be understandable if in fact an abandonment of the confiscated monies actually occurred. However, Mr. Elton Gates didnít pull out $113 from his pocket, lay it on the curb, and walk away. This would indeed illustrate abandonment. No, Mr. Elton Gates, along with millions of other offenders, had money TAKEN, or rather STOLEN from him, and when he confronted the thieves, they not only refused to return that which did not rightfully belong to them, but they believe their actions were NOT in the wrong!

So, again the question remains; If an offenderís confiscated monies wasnít returned to them, and it wasnít given to the state treasurer, where, oh where did it go? If I was a betting man, Iíd bet in never went anywhere. Instead, it remained in the arresting officerís pocket.

Now, if you share the same sediments and you were a victim yourself of such injustice, feel free to contact Thomas Peters and explain your scenario, for heís already filed a class action lawsuit on your behalf.

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