Middle Tennessee Police Profiting Off Drug Trade?
By Phil Williams
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A major NewsChannel 5 investigation has uncovered serious questions about Tennessee’s war on drugs. Among the questions: are some police agencies more concerned about making money off the drugs, than stopping them?
At the center of this months-long investigation are laws that let officers pull driver over looking for cash. Those officers do not even have to file criminal charges against a person to take his/her money.
It turns out, those kind of stops are now happening almost every day in Middle Tennessee.
Case in point: a 2009 stop where a tractor trailer was stopped for a traffic violation, leading to a search and the discovery of large blocks containing almost $200,000 cash — cash that officers keep on the suspicion that it’s drug money.
“What’s wrong with having a large amount of cash?” asked Karen Petrosyan, a California businessman who owned the truck.
Petrosyan refuses to admit there’s anything suspicious about the stash that police discovered. Officers later released his father, who was driving the truck, without filing a single charge — and authorities cut a deal that let Petrosyan come to Tennessee to get his big rig back.
Read officers’ narrative about why money seized
“If I am a criminal, if they allege me to be a criminal,” Petrosyan told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, “why would they settle? They do not just let criminals go.”
District Attorney General Kim Helper said that “in general, it was seized because — based upon our evidence and probable cause — it’s illegal drug proceeds.”