The Miami-Dade Police Department must return nearly $20,000 in cash they stole (or illegally seized) from a stripper, claiming it was drug money.
The department agreed to pay more than $3,000 in attorney fees to lawyers hired by Ras Cates, 33, and his wife, Lizmixell Batista, who is a stripper at Cheetah Gentleman’s Club in Hallandale Beach.
The couple was arrested May 25 in Miami after police seized six guns — including three assault-type rifles — suspected marijuana oil and several bottles of codeine that did not have valid prescriptions, the Herald reported.
Police also confiscated $19,934 in bills that were found in Batista’s purse. According to body-camera footage, Batista explained why she was carrying so much cash.
“I was supposed to go the bank to deposit the money. We got bills to pay, sweetie,” she said.
The couple was charged with armed drug dealing and other felony charges, but defense attorneys challenged the arrest and prosecutors dropped the case.
“Search of the trunk was illegal,” prosecutor Johnathan Nobile wrote in a memo.
According to the report, the Miami-Dade police department’s legal bureau asked a civil court judge to allow law officials to keep the money, arguing that they believed it was drug money. But at a hearing, a co-worker with Batista at the strip club testified that she earned “significant cash tips” at the club.
The judge ruled there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered the money returned to the couple.
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