In the over three-year saga of the Motel Caswell civil forfeiture case, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), under the direction of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen M. Ortiz, just suffered a stinging defeat after a U.S. Magistrate Judge ruled the “Government has not met its burden of proving a substantial connection between the Motel Caswell and the forfeitable crimes, and, therefore, has not met its burden of proving that the Property is forfeitable.”
Ortiz was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009, and is both the first woman and Hispanic to serve in that position. She has made headlines recently for what some are calling the over-zealous prosecution of 26-year-old Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide on January 11, 2013. A petition has been created at the White House website’s We the People portal, titled “Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz,” and has garnered nearly 50K signatures.
In October 2011, AMERICAN FREE PRESS writer Keith Johnson wrote an article about Russ Caswell‘s Massachusetts’ motel, which became the target of the DoJ and his local police department. Caswell, an ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding American citizen, was caught in an evil, unconstitutional legal game that could have cost him everything him and his family have worked for their whole lives.
Although Caswell didn’t break any laws, has never been arrested nor convicted of anything, that wasn’t enough to stop the federal and local government team from trying to steal his mortgage-free property, legally, using so-called civil forfeiture statutes.
In March 2012, AFP interviewed Russ on the case, and again after the November 2012 trial, in this interview (25:42).
AFP PODCAST: Civil Forfeiture Laws: ‘Perverse Financial Incentives’
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.
Be sure to check out all of AFP’s free podcasts. You’ll find them on the Home Page, in the Archives & in the Podcast section.