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Iowa Police Steal $100K From Poker Players

Pair Of Poker Pros Say They Were Targeted Because Of Out-Of-State Plates


A couple of poker players are wrapped up in a federal lawsuit against Iowa for what they claim was unlawful seizure of their poker money.

Professional poker players William “Bart” Davis and John Newmer­zhycky were driving through Iowa in April 2013 after a World Series of Poker circuit stop in Illinois and were pulled over.

According to the Des Moines Register, Newmerzhycky was driving a rented red Nissan Altima with Nevada license plates. Court documents indicate that it is unclear exactly why the car was pulled over. The poker players claim that they were unfairly targeted for no other reason then having out-of-state plates. Still, that doesn’t justify what happened later.

A shaky explanation from police alleged that they had been tipped off about possible criminal activity connected to the car. From the report:

In a [police] report, [Trooper Justin Simmons ] wrote that an Illinois law enforcement officer had relayed concerns to Iowa authorities about a red vehicle…But in a deposition taken while the pair fought the seizure of their money, Simmons said he did not know why Illinois authorities had flagged the red vehicle or whether they’d suspected it was involved in criminal activity. More than 10 minutes after he began following the car, Simmons initiated a traffic stop, claiming Newmerzhycky failed to signal while passing a black SUV. However, attorneys have now argued that a dash camera video taken from Simmons’ patrol cruiser—which was several car lengths behind the Altima—shows Newmerzhycky using his turn signal, contrary to the troopers’ report.

Apparently, Simmons was about to let them off with a warning, but then decided to ask if they had drugs or cash in the car. They said they didn’t. In reality, $100,000 was in the car.

The trooper called in a dog to sniff around the vehicle and the dog allegedly picked up on something. The car was searched, and authorities found the cash and a grinder, typically used to grind up marijuana. It allegedly contained small amounts of the substance.

The money was confiscated and they were charged in Iowa with possession of drug paraphernalia. However, the cops in Iowa called police in California, where the poker players are from, and for some reason their homes were searched. Authorities in California allegedly found marijuana and both were charged with felonies. Fortunately, those felony charges were later dropped. Both have medical marijuana cards in California.

All of this stemmed from a traffic stop that the pair claims violated their rights.

Iowa tried to keep the entire amount of money, but when the poker players sought legal action to recoup their money, the state relented and gave $90,000 of it back. However, the victims lost about a third of that to attorney fees and were obviously still livid.

The case, which is a cautionary tale to poker players carrying large sums of money, also highlights the ability of police to steal with near impunity from the law.

According to the report, Iowa police receive 100 percent of the proceeds from civil forfeitures they initiate. From 2011-2013, Iowa has seized about $7 million in cash from motorists.

“There is absolutely nothing illegal or uncommon about people driving through the United States with out-of-state plates…and carrying amounts of cash,” the lawyer who filed Davis and Newmerzhycky’s lawsuit tells the Register. “There’s nothing illegal about carrying cash, and yet law enforcement begins to treat individuals who are carrying cash as if they are criminals.”

Since cash, and sometimes a lot of it, is a tool of the poker playing trade, it isn’t uncommon for those in the game to get harassed when found with enormous sums. In some cases, as the Iowa case demonstrates, bankrolls are seized by authorities.

Here’s a look at the dash cam video from the incident.

Tags: Iowa


6 years ago

they should have told them about the cash why lie


6 years ago

Are you serious? Did you really just say they should have told them about the cash, why lie? Well,here's a few reasons :

A. It's none of there fcking business.
B. Under the protections of the 4rth ammendment, they don't have to submit to searches without a warrant or cause.

C. Police are nothing more than low life thieves, confiscating money from innocent citizens under any guise so their department can spend more of your money on tanks, dogs, drones, and anything else a community of 40,000 people might need.

D. It's sheep like you that gives these jack booted thugs more security while they cheat, rob, and violate free citizens.

Is it any wonder why close to a third of the citizens smile from ear to ear when we hear about a cop getting shot.

God bless Sal Culosi,Douglas Zerby, Jose Guerena, and all of the THOUSANDS of innocent citizens murdered by police scum all over this country who murder good people without cause, and then get a slap on the wrist instead of the lynching they deserve.


6 years ago

Because they were dealing dope.The guy was too worried about them having their phones and knowing their locations


6 years ago

Also those straps of cash are smaller bills to equal 100k. There would be 10 10k bundles if tey cashed out at a cage.Those are 50's and 20's to fill 2 bags like that.


6 years ago

eastbound traffic on i-80 from nebraska going into iowa at council bluffs border they do interdiction in both states at the border and 10 miles either way.....out of state plate?, gettin pulled over....older or rental vehicle?, gettin pulled over....going 5 mph over the limit?, gettin pulled over...look like "the type"?, gettin pulled over....and if you do get pulled over get ready because they can really ruin your day or worse...yes it is no wonder why so many people despise police.


6 years ago

what they should have done is first of all said that they do not consent to a search..then they should have remained silent..if they had a judge wouldve dismissed the case as the guys constitutional rights to illegal search and seizure were violated....thats the lesson. say you do not consent to a search, excersise your right to remain silent, and then ask if they are free to go. this is an outrage and evidence of the police state we are becoming


6 years ago

I hope they sue the police. Unlike in the UK, the US police need a reason for pulling them over. 'Driving a red car that may hav ebeen suspect' is not enough!!!

I am glad the UK police have the power to stop any vehicle they like at any time for no reason. They do need a reason, like a minor traffic offence, to give a breath test though.

I think the US should give this power to stop. Cars must be next to computers as a major factor in crimes.