The Michigan House overwhelmingly approved common-sense legislation, from state Rep. Doug Wozniak, to better direct and protect civil asset forfeiture funds from the sale of seized vehicles.
Under current law, law enforcement agencies can confiscate property, including vehicles, used in criminal activity. This process, known as civil asset forfeiture, was established to ensure criminals do not profit from their crimes, and agencies can keep or sell seized property, using proceeds for public safety purposes.
Unfortunately, there have been instances of officials misusing funds gained from such forfeitures. Rep. Wozniak’s bill ensures civil asset forfeiture funding will be used for the common good by distributing funds through the treasurer of the unit of government overseeing the law enforcement unit, so that they may be appropriated for uses that enhance enforcement of criminal laws.
“The intent behind civil asset forfeiture is to prevent criminals from profiting from crimes,” said Rep. Wozniak “but, unfortunately we have seen abuse and misuse of these funds by the very agencies that seized them. Just last year, our former Macomb County prosecutor was charged with embezzling and misconduct related to misuse of civil asset forfeiture funds, while in office. My legislation expands protections for these types of resources, to ensure that any money seized goes into the system for public safety purposes, as originally intended.”
Former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith faces a list of corruption charges including conducting a criminal enterprise and embezzlement after an investigation into his handling of forfeiture funds. He faces 10 felony charges in total.
The Wozniak bill is part of a two-bill package, with state Rep. Jeffrey Yaroch sponsoring the second bill. House bills 4240-41 will now be transferred to the Senate for further consideration.
Following bipartisan approval of the annual budget for state government on Wednesday, Rep. Doug Wozniak today shared how the plan will support job creation and construct roads and other infrastructure in Michigan.
“The Constitution is the foundation of our American republic, serving as a source of inspiration for the pursuit of freedom and justice around the world. We should be thankful for the blessings of our forefathers to give us a form of government that has served us well for more than two centuries.
On September 9, the Michigan House of Representatives commemorated the 20th anniversary of the deadly terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. We honored not only those killed by these attacks but also the service and dedication of all first responders from around our great state.
In a special way, the House honored the lives and memory of first responders who had passed away within the past year. It was my privilege to host Marsha Posavetz at the event to honor the life and memory of her husband, Fred Posavetz, who served as the Chief of Clinton Township Police for fourteen years before passing away due to COVID-19 on March 22, 2021.