Russell Caswell of Tewksbury, MA was notified about two and a half years ago, in September of 2009, that the federal government was seizing his motel through a process known as civil forfeiture. The government, in conjunction with the Tewksbury Police Department, had found that the Motel Caswell was the site of 7 major drug investigations and arrests from 2001–2008. In addition, the police claimed there were an estimated 100 drug investigations conducted on the property. Civil forfeiture does not require the owner to be accused of any crime, and does not require the state or federal government to compensate the owner in any way for the forfeiture. Caswell is being represented by Attorney Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice, and they are currently awaiting a decision on a summary judgment motion, which asked that the judge dismiss the claim on Caswell’s motel on the grounds that the forfeiture is unconstitutional.
The Motel Caswell, a family-owned business in Tewksbury, MA, is currently involved in litigation with the Tewksbury Police Department. The TPD is attempting to seize the property, alongside the federal government, using a process known as civil forfeiture.
The Motel Caswell of Tewksbury, MA is currently involved in federal litigation due to a process known as civil forfeiture. Civil forfeiture occurs when a crime is charged against a property, and no charges need to be brought up against the owners. The only recourse for the owners would be to prove that they are “innocent” of any knowledge of the crimes, as defined by the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000.
This case has gained the attention of such publications as the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, and the owner, Russell Caswell, and his attorney, Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice, have appeared on many news programs to speak about the circumstances under which this case has developed.
If Mayor Gregory Neffinger were to give a “State of the City” address for West Springfield at this time, similar to the President’s “State of the Union,” it could most closely be summarized by the following words, commonly seen in other venues: Currently Under Construction. The November 2011 elections have seen new members added to the City Council, as well as the School Committee, not to mention that Neffinger himself is in only in his third month on the job. In addition, positions have opened up across the board due to retirements and promotions, as well as dismissals, and the discovery that the City of West Springfield’s Charter has several positions that were never filled upon its creation. There is a lot of movement in this city, and it will be some time before the dust settles and the citizens can determine the positive and negative effects that accompany great change. Continue reading →