Photo Credit: Shawn StoutMandrel Stuart used to own the Smoking Roosters, a barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Va. But one night in August 2012, police pulled him over and seized $17,550, without even bothering to charge Stuart with a crime. Unable to pay his bills and rent, Stuart had to close down his small business.
On the night of the seizure, Stuart and his girlfriend were headed to Washington, D.C. for a date and to buy supplies for his restaurant, when Fairfax County Officer Kevin Palizzi pulled them over on I-66. Palizzi stopped Stuart initially for having tinted windows. During the stop, Palizzi saw the movie Flashdance was also playing in Stuart’s car, which led to a $20 infraction.
A K-9 unit arrived and the dog alerted to the presence of drugs in Stuart’s car. Police then searched the car and found $17,550 in cash. A more thorough investigation of the car uncovered a minuscule amount of marijuana: just 0.01 gram. Police later gave Stuart a scrap of paper as a receipt. He was never charged with any crime.
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