It was concealed in a “hidden compartment” in her car.
According to a police dog trained in such matters, it smelled of illicit drugs. Literally.
And the woman, a North Carolina resident headed for Texas, told the trooper who stopped her for a traffic violation in St. Martin Parish that it wasn’t her $144,320 and she didn’t have a clue how it got down there in her floorboard.
Now Tina Beers of Siler City, N.C., wants that money back, and Louisiana’s 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal says the 16th Judicial District Court needs to give it to her.
The law says a dope dealer doesn’t have be convicted or even charged of a crime to have money seized so long as the state can show probable cause that “the property was connected with illegal drug transactions.”
A three-judge panel of the appellate court said a recent study shows that virtually all cash nowadays is tainted with drugs.
Also Beers has no known connection with the illegal narcotics traffic, and the state failed to show that where the money was found was “a nefariously created hiding place, rather than a mere floor compartment common in many minivans.”
While he agreed the state had not met the standard for seizing the $144,320, Judge James T. Genovese disagreed with the other two judges that it should be given back to the motorist.
“The problem I have with the majority opinion is returning the money to Tina Beers, considering the fact that she denied ownership of the money and denied having knowledge of the presence of the money in the vehicle,” Genovese wrote.
The other two panel judges were Oswald A. Decuir and Billy Howard Ezell.
The traffic stop was made on I-10 in January, 2009.