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Cops and Courts

Man sues patrol over $6,000 in seized cash

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ELYRIA — A California man has filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Highway Patrol for the release of nearly $6,000 in cash that was seized during a traffic stop in Amherst Township last year.

In the suit filed in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, William Keating, of Angels Camp, Calif., is asking the patrol to release $5,820 in cash seized during a traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike Dec. 20, 2016.

Keating was pulled over by a trooper after allegedly committing a marked lanes violation while traveling eastbound on Interstate 80 near milepost 137, according to the incident report. Keating was traveling with his fianc←e, 4-year-old son and dog in a rented RV.

A canine unit conducted a “narcotics sniff” of the vehicle and located a black duffel bag with a plastic bag containing rolling papers and a cigarette rolling machine. The duffel bag contained marijuana and two white envelopes that contained nearly $6,000 in cash.

Keating told troopers he was a marijuana grower in California and that he’d forgotten the marijuana and drug paraphernalia were in the bag. He also said “the cash was earned from growing marijuana and marijuana consulting,” according to the report.

Keating was charged with possession of marijuana, a minor misdemeanor, in Oberlin Municipal Court. He pleaded no contest, was found guilty and paid fines and court costs amounting to $430, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also claims the cash that was seized during the incident was “not factually connected to the minor misdemeanor offense.”

The Ohio Highway Patrol did not respond to requests for information about the case or if the agency plans to release the cash or contest the lawsuit.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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