Poker Players’ Lawsuit in Iowa Results in Compensation

Two poker players traveling within the state of Iowa filed a lawsuit after police confiscated their bankrolls back in 2013. The case has finally come to an end and the state has refunded the money but also disbanded the unit within the police department that was in charge of the actions involved.

It was announced early last week by the Iowa Department of Public Safety that the Drug Interdiction Team would be disbanded, a group put in charge of monitoring drug traffic in the state. Part of the task force’s actions when stopping a vehicle was to confiscate whatever was found in the car at the time based on property forfeiture. The team had seized money as well as items individuals had on their person, then questioning the owners as to why they were traveling with so much cash.

In an official statement to the public, Sergeant Nathan Ludwig of the State Patrol commented that the State Patrol will no longer assign troopers specifically to interdiction duty on a full-time basis. Seizure protocols can still take place by city or county law enforcement officials as they see fit.

All of this stems from an incident that took place in April of 2013 involving two poker players of California. John Newmerzhycky and William Davis were traveling in the Midwest to compete in events on the World Series of Poker Circuit. The two were stopped due to a failure to signal when passing a vehicle. Troopers decided to search the vehicle after they believed Newmerzhycky was fidgeting. The vehicle was searched and just over $100,000 was found plus a small amount of marijuana.

After Newmerzhycky plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of drug paraphernalia the state decided to seize the money. Both poker players filed suit that challenged the contentions of the officers. Both felt there was no probably cause to have been stopped as they did signal the ass and for the money to be seized, was a warrantless search. The two claimed the money was taken illegally.

Once the case began, it was found that the two men had indeed signaled the turn based on footage from a dashboard camera. The attorney’s office for Powesheik County decided to return $90,000 to the men. This was done in the hopes that the case would be over with. However, the two men were not satisfied and the case continued

In the end, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Peterzalek decided to settle the case before it went to trail and the end the involvement of the State Troopers in the case. An additional $60,000 was added in the monetary compensation provided to the two players with the attorney general’s office stating that, “in light of the complexity of the case and potential exposure to the state” it was best to take this action. The cost to the state could have been much higher as the two poker players were suing for damages as well as attorney’s fees.

While this case ended in favor of the players, it is recommended that anyone traveling state to state to compete in a poker tournament to not carry such large amounts of cash. Not only could this same type of incident happen but you could also be robbed and hurt. Find out how you can fund your tournament buy-in easily and have access to quick cash by contacting the venue in which the event is taking place. There is no need to carry around boat loads of cash as you have options for using funds to compete.