Prosecutors have a way of recovering from criminals the proceeds they have generated from their enterprises. Seizing property and cash has been used effectively against organized crime and drug dealers. Such seizures have been done in Arizona for years, but sometimes they come from people who are not convicted or not even the target of an investigation.
More rules are needed, and state Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, has made limits on the procedure a cause of his. Farnsworth has made his position clear to Attorney General Mark Brnovich in the past and this year advanced a bill in the Legislature. As with many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with the legislative process.
Farnsworth says the attorney general and his allies waited until too late to state objections. Without a compromise in place, the bill died in the House, with some Republicans joining Democrats in opposition, and Farnsworth is not happy. He says state and county prosecutors are too reliant on the cash they are getting from seizures and that three-fourths of the cases are for amounts of less than $10,000 rather than from criminal kingpins.
Brnovich’s office says prosecutors need a way to move before criminals can hide their funds and that the state should provide funding to replace money that will be lost for the offices. Both sides in the debate make valid points.
Prosecutors should have more guidelines but should not lose this effective tool. The two sides need to work together to provide more safeguards while not destroying the effect of the ability to seize proceeds from criminals. In the future, post-COVID-19, passing a bill is important.