TN Officer Charged With Theft After Taking $6,000 Using Civil Asset Forfeiture

According to a state Comptroller’s report in Tennessee, a former police officer failed to deposit cash he collected for the return of seized vehicles totaling $6,000.

“During 2014 and 2015, former police Sgt. Michael Hurt failed to turn over cash totaling at least $6,000 for deposit. Sgt. Hurt was responsible for returning to owners or lienholders vehicles seized by the police department,” read the report. “In at least one instance, Sgt. Hurt acknowledged that he ‘renegotiated’ and reduced the cash settlement ordered by the Department of Safety from $5,000 down to $1,500. Mr. Hurt altered records, failed to record or receipt the majority of the cash, and made a false entry in police department records in an apparent attempt to conceal his activities.”

Hurt was ordered by the Tennessee Department of Safety to hand the vehicles over back to their original owners.

“We have this system going on around the country where people are having their property taken and it’s going into the bank accounts of police departments. It’s not that great a logical leap to hear of something like this,” Bates said of the Morristown audit.

Hurt was later indicted on two counts of theft over $1,000, one count of theft under $500, and one count of official misconduct.

As reported previously by Truth In Media, some states are making reforms to protect citizens and curtail corrupt police departments. But stories like the one in Tennessee are becoming all too common.

Truth In Media’s Barry Donegan reported that the city of Richland, Mississippi “currently features a $4.1 million police station, a fleet of new Dodge Chargers, and a top-of-the-line law enforcement training complex paid for through civil asset forfeiture, a legal process through which police seize property from individuals suspected, but not convicted, of a crime.”

Donegan noted that the Cato Institute has referred to mechanisms that fund police agencies through civil asset forfeiture as “policing for profit.”