The Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputy behind a series of controversial cash seizures along I-80 is no longer with the sheriff’s office.
The I-team first obtained dash-cam video of one of the deputy’s drug interdiction stops, and that video led to an investigation by the state Attorney General.
The video of Deputy Lee Dove confiscating $50,000 from a motorist became a rallying point for advocates of civil assent forfeiture reform. After the video aired in April 2014, a new sheriff was elected in Humboldt County and the drug interdiction stops were suspended.
Now Dove is no longer a deputy, and the interdiction program he was part of is also gone from the sheriff’s office.
The video showed Deputy Dove finding the cash, and about $10,000 in traveler’s checks, while searching the car of motorist Tan Nguyen.
Nguyen had been stopped for speeding.
“I’m convinced that’s dope money. Now, you may get away with the cashier’s checks and stuff, but you ain’t getting the cash. That’s gonna be seized,” Dove tells Nguyen.
He offers a deal, abandon the cash and drive away, or Dove will seize it anyway and have the car towed as well.
“It’s your call. If you want to walk away, you can take the cashier’s checks, the car and everything in it and you can bolt. And you’re on your way. But you’re gonna be walking away from this money and abandoning it,” Dove can be hear saying on the video.
After the dash-cam video went viral, a new sheriff was elected in Humboldt County. That sheriff asked the Nevada Attorney General to review the controversial stops. Adam Laxalt’s office released this statement.
“After carefully reviewing the available investigative materials regarding the Lee Dove matter, this office has determined not to initiate criminal charges… the office has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. I must also emphasize that the result of this investigation demonstrates my longstanding belief that Nevada’s seizure laws must be changed to better protect property rights and the public.”
Laxalt did respond to the I-Team’s request for information on what specific reform he is seeking.
Deputy Dove declined an interview when the I-Team first approached him in 2014.
In June of this year, he left his job as a deputy.
We don’t know if he was fired or allowed to retire, or if the departure was related to the cash seizures. The sheriff’s office says it can’t comment because it is a personnel issue.
Just this week, Dove agreed to a plea deal in an unrelated criminal case, where he allegedly threatened a customer at a convenience store with a pistol. His attorney says he will plead guilty to an unspecified misdemeanor charge, which means he will get to keep his firearm.