Render Unto Caesar Whatever The Hell He Wants
Commit a crime? No? Have a reason to carry a lot of cash? Yes? Don’t expect to hang onto it:
Over at the poker forum Two Plus Two, pro poker player David Peat writes that he was essentially mugged by DEA agents at an airport in Toledo, Ohio.
According to Peat, he and his girlfriend had originally planned to fly back to Las Vegas together after visiting her family. But after purchasing their tickets, Peat decided to fly to L.A. to play in a poker game. He bought a last minute, first-class ticket, and paid in cash. That apparently was enough to set off red flags.
Peat says he was accosted by several DEA agents, who asked him questions about who he was and where he was going. He told them he was a poker player, and had $15,000 in cash in his pocket. They first let him go, but then chased him down, and told him he’d need to come with them for questioning. Peat says the agents then confiscated all of his money, as well as his $50,000 Rolex watch. He says they gave him a receipt, and told him to expect more information in the mail.
There’s no corroboration of the story as of yet, but I see no reason why he would make it up… Further, it doesn’t seem entirely out of character for the Federalis. Instead of making the last minute U-turn to play in the poker match in L.A, perhaps he should have gone back to Vegas with his girlfriend and instead enjoyed some games of poker while online and reading information through Poker Tube or the likes. He certainly wouldn’t have had to deal with this potentially unnecessary debacle with law enforcement.
Now, I’ll admit that someone traveling with $15K in cash is a bit suspicious. That doesn’t make him a drug dealer, though. If anyone follows poker or professional poker players, they’ll soon realize that carrying this sort of money isn’t exactly abnormal for them, for example, learn more about Paul Phua with an impressive winning of $3 million in one sitting. You’d expect someone that has won that much to be okay with walking around with $15,000 in their pocket. It seems to me that he had a pretty simple explanation for carrying so much cash — in his job as a high-stakes poker player, he needs it. And the link Radley Balko found suggests that he could support his story rather easily. Notwithstanding whether the IRS might have an issue with him, the DEA has no reason to. Yet all that didn’t matter. His cash is now in their hands, and he’s likely going to have to prove — beyond a reasonable doubt — that it’s not drug related. Considering that his poker opponents probably didn’t give him receipts for their losses, that might not be easy to do.
For David Peat, I wish him luck recovering his assets from the DEA. For the agents, I wish upon them a punishment far worse than living in Toledo. Something about losing an extremity in a freak x-ray machine accident sounds about right.