Two Californian poker players have filed a lawsuit in a Federal District Court after their car was stopped by Iowa state troopers and searched. Over $100,000 was taken from them, and both men was arrested on drug related charges that were later dropped.
According to the Des Moines Register, professional gamblers William “Bart” David, and John Newmerzhycky, from California, have filed a lawsuit in a Federal District Court in Iowa, appertaining to a car search that took place in the state of Iowa during April 2013.
The pair were driving through the state after playing in a poker tournament in Illinois when a state trooper pulled them over for allegedly failing to use a turn signal. The trooper felt it necessary to call for back up, after finding $100,020 in cash, and a grinder containing small pieces of marijuana was found in a computer bag. The pair had their homes searched, and felony drugs charges laid on both men, that were later dropped when it became apparent they both held medical cards for marijuana.
The two players are taking the Iowans to court because they believe they were stopped without probable cause after a video camera on the state trooper’s car showed that the pair did use an effective turn signal.
The court heard that an Oct 2013 review of 22,000 warnings and citations given by troopers, between 2008 – 2012, showed that 86% of the violations went against non-Iowans. The defense claimed that this ‘stop and search’ protocol was an effective deterrent against crime, with more than $18m in illegal drugs, and $7m in currency, found during stops between 2011 – 2013.
The two players have told the court that they have suffered various ailments since the incident. Davis said he couldn’t play poker tournaments for months thereafter, and Newmerzhycky said he suffered a stroke when he first heard about the felony charges.
“There is absolutely nothing illegal or uncommon about people driving through the United States with out-of-state plates … and carrying amounts of cash,” said Glen Downey, a Des Moines attorney representing the men. “There’s nothing illegal about carrying cash, and yet law enforcement begins to treat individuals who are carrying cash as if they are criminals.”
The Hendon Mob database shows that John Newmerzhycky has a tad under $22k in lifetime earnings, and there are no live tournament records showing under the name of William David.