Tiny Fla. police department's cash task force shows increased used of forfeiture nationwide

  • 472664b2b417760f310f6a706700f9c9.jpg

    Russell Caswell stands outside the Tewksbury, Mass., motel that local, state and federal authorities tried to seize. (AP File)

  • a4192bf7b417760f310f6a706700f6a5.jpg

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, owner Russ Caswell reaches for a room key behind the front desk of the Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Mass. Caswell is fighting to keep the federal government from taking his motel under a law that allows for forfeiture of properties connected to crimes. The government does not claim that Caswell committed any crimes, but claims there is drug-dealing among the motel's guests. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)The Associated Press

Law enforcement agencies across the country are increasingly using forfeiture laws to seize cash and assets from suspected criminals and also some people with little connection to crime.

The 30-man police force in Bal Harbour, Fla., recently came under fire from the Justice Department for how it used millions of dollars in forfeiture proceeds from drug investigations. The town has had to return some $1.2 million and may have to repay more.

Critics say police focus increasingly on seizing assets because they get to keep the money. Some state legislatures are looking at new laws to give people more rights in such cases, particularly when they aren't charged with a crime.

The Justice Department's forfeiture program has grown $297.5 million in payouts in 2006 to almost $454 million in 2012.

Bank Rates

Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
30 Y Fixed Graph 4.32% up 4.27%  
15 Y Fixed Graph 3.29% up 3.27%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.61% up 4.57%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.34% dw 3.47%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 3.60% up 3.51%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.38% dw 4.47%  
$50K HELOC Graph 4.11% dw 4.17%  
$30K Loan Graph 4.98% dw 5.11%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.40% dw 4.55%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.40% dw 4.51%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 2.91% -- 2.91%  
36 M Used Graph 3.40% dw 3.44%  
48 M New Graph 3.16% dw 3.19%  
48 M Used Graph 2.90% dw 2.97%  
60 M New Graph 3.18% dw 3.22%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
6 month Graph 0.35% up 0.34%  
1 yr Graph 0.67% dw 0.67%  
5 yr Graph 1.38% -- 1.38%