California Poker Players Win Case Against Iowa Police Who Took Their Bankroll

After a nightmare which has lasted nearly four years, two Californian poker players who had $100k in cash confiscated by police in Iowa after being stopped for a minor traffic violation have finally won a settlement from Iowa for $60,000 in damages, which they now add to the $90,000 which had previously been returned to them.

The pair, William “Bart” Davis and John Newmerzhycky, were travelling to a poker game in Illinois back in April 2013 when they were pulled over by officers Justin Simmons and Eric VanderWie under the premise that they had failed to signal when turning (subsequent dash cam evidence proved that this wasn't, in fact, the case). After finding a ludicrously small 1/1000th of a gram of marijuana in the car in a warrantless search , the offices confiscated over $100k in cash (even though both men held medical marijuana cards in California) - which consituted the Davis and Newmerzhycky's entire bankroll at the time.

The police were able to take the money under the civil forfeiture scheme, which allows law enforcement to confiscate cash and property without the need for a warrant or criminal charge. The heavily criticised scheme was initially brought in thirty years ago to help combat the war on drugs, but it has been argued that widespread abuse of the scheme has left innocent people like Davis and Newmerzhycky out of pocket, as the police deparrments lined theirs - to date over $55 million has been taken from people, many of whom were never charged with an offence.

The players sued for damages in 2014, having spent c.$30k in lawyer fees to claw back $90k of their losses and have finally been rewarded with the additional $60,000 for their ordeal and clearing their names after a long, drawn out battle during which time Newmerzhycky not only suffered a stroke, but was also temporarily made homeless after debt forced him to rent out his own property.


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