This family had their property seized after their son was arrested for selling $40 worth of drugs outside of their home. See below…
Christos Sourovelis already considered May 8 – the day he dropped his son off for a stint in court-ordered rehab – as one of the worst in his life. Then, it got worse.
That afternoon, more than a month after police arrested their son for selling $40 worth of drugs outside of their house in the city’s Somerton section, Sourovelis received a frantic call from his wife. Officers had returned, and this time they were looking to take their home.
So began his family’s introduction to the city’s civil forfeiture dragnet – a program ostensibly aimed at depriving drug traffickers of cash, cars and other fruits of their crimes but one increasingly under a microscope for cases like Sourovelis’, in which homeowners never accused of anything still face eviction from houses only tangentially related to a crime.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t bother anybody,” Sourovelis, 52, said in an interview Tuesday. “But we struggle from week to week not knowing what will happen.”
This week, he and two other Philadelphia homeowners whose houses have become targets of civil forfeiture actions sued the District Attorney’s Office, the city and the Police Department, seeking to close down what their lawyers call one of the most aggressive forfeiture units in the nation.
“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has turned this tool into a veritable machine, devouring real and personal property from thousands of residents, many of whom are innocent, and converting that property into a $5.8 million average annual stream of revenue,” said Darpana Sheth, a lawyer with the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, a nonprofit public-interest law firm with libertarian leanings.
Read more: Philly