Sheriff Profits from Gambling Forfeitures in North Carolina

Profits gleaned from the growing number of gambling forfeitures by US law enforcement raises the question of whether this money grab practice is ethical.

In North Carolina this week, the latest gambling forfeiture case that involves the New Hanover Sheriff’s Office has seen a cash payoff made to law enforcement in the region of $115,000 despite the fact that criminal charges were never filed. This has raised many questions regarding impropriety of justice leading to what appears to be a business proposition.

According to authorities, the cash along with a years model Chrysler automobile were seized as being suspected property associated with an investigation into an illegal free online poker business. During the case in February, the judge made an award of the cash and the vehicle to the New Hanover Sheriff’s Office. The case then resurfaced this year following an inquiry which revealed that the property’s owner was never charged with a crime of any kind.

During this year, US federal authorities have very publicly made a collection of high profile deals involving big name gambling operators from overseas where huge amounts of money were accepted in return for non-prosecution arrangements with federal courts. This has led to some legal experts to argue that by profiting from its far reaching ability to launch investigations and then prosecute the perpetrators, the government could be affecting the very impartiality and fairness of the judicial system.

Now officials in New Hampshire are having to deal with claims arising from another case of gambling seizure where police have taken considerably more money than was officially stated in the raids. The air of mystery is compounded by the fact that search warrants issued in cases of illegal gambling do not specify the amounts of cash that are recovered by officers.

Ed McMahon, who is the current sheriff although not in office during the time the unusual cases were going on, is promising to ensure that all ethical procedures will be done by the book in all cases of illegal gambling seizure from now on. He told reporters via a written statement that his office’s professionalism and accountability must be reflected during every investigation.

Big names in the online gambling industry that have avoided prosecution by making massive multi million dollar payments to US law enforcement include PartyGaming and BetOnSports.