Dimitrios Patlias and Tonya Smith were stopped by a West Virginia state trooper on the highway who allegedly confiscated their money and gift cards without even charging them with a crime.
Smith says that the state trooper pulled them over and searched their persons, vehicle, and Smith’s purse. The couple was accused of smuggling cigarettes, having drugs in the car, and committing gift card fraud. It appears, however, that the pair had done nothing wrong.
Officer “Walker” allegedly took $10,478 dollars in cash as well as 78 gift cards from the pair. Patlias and Smith were headed to Jefferson County’s Hollywood Casino but were forced to turn around and return to their Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, home. “It was a disgusting way of being treated,” Smith said. “We work hard for our money.”
While supporters of the West Virginia forfeiture laws that allow these things to happen point out their effectiveness against the illegal drug trade, Smith is not convinced. “To me, this law, now that I’ve learned of it, it turns police officers into dishonest crooks,” she said. “I feel like I was in a movie.”
On Thursday, an officer returned Patlias and Smith’s property to them in full. A state police spokesman has confirmed that “a complaint was made by Mr. Patlias,” and an Internal Affairs investigation is now “ongoing.” Smith said that the incident has left “a bad taste in her mouth.”