Court Rejects Justice Department Seizure of Motel
A federal judge rejected the Justice Department's effort to seize a family-owned motel in Tewksbury, Mass., a decision that could rein in the federal government's power to seize private property.
The government argued the property, known as the Motel Caswell, was forfeitable because it had been connected to criminal activity, in this case 15 drug-related incidents that took place between 1994 and 2008. The Caswell family, which owns the motel through a trust, said it had nothing do with the drug activities.
In a sometimes scathing ruling, which for now halts the civil action brought by the federal government, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dein said the federal government "had 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."
The judge added that the motel's proprietor, Russell Caswell, of Tewksbury, Mass., did meet his "burden of proving the innocent owner defense."Comment: Obviously (read the reviews) a seedy place but an important ruling