Appeals court upholds Walla Walla cash-seizure decision

An appellate panel says a local judge was right to rule the city was entitled to more than $400,000 seized in 2006.

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WALLA WALLA -- The city of Walla Walla has prevailed in an appellate court decision involving one of the largest cash seizures by police in recent memory.

In an opinion issued Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Washington state Court of Appeals in Spokane upheld an earlier Walla Walla County Superior Court ruling that more than $400,000 seized by police in 2006 did not belong to the man who ultimately claimed it was his.

Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht determined in early 2010 that the city "carried its burden of proof" to support its contention that the $401,333.44 was used in or was the product of illegal drug activity.

Schacht also ruled that Adrian Ibarra-Raya, the man who claimed ownership, is not the rightful owner. And the Court of Appeals agreed there is substantial evidence to support that ruling.

The money has been placed in a financial account. Once cleared to be spent after the possibility of future appeals has been exhausted, 10 percent of the cash will go to the state under a requirement of state law and the rest will be used by the city for the war on drugs.

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