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IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Iredell District Court Judge Christine Underwood has given the Town of Mooresville and its police department one week to comply with a court order or go to jail.

On Nov. 16, 2020, the Mooresville Police Department was called out to a hotel where they searched an unoccupied rental car and seized small amount of marijuana as well as approximately $17,000 belonging to a Connecticut man, Jermaine Sanders, whose daughter resides in Iredell County.

On Nov. 19 the Mooresville Police Department was put on notice of a hearing to challenge the seizure of Sanders’ money, according to his lawyer Ashley Cannon. However, the day before the hearing, Nov. 23, the police send a check for the money to the federal government under the authority of the controversial civil forfeiture law.

Cannon says the timing was purposeful.

“What they did was circumvent the system by giving it over to the federal government because they anticipated coming into court and being able to say, ‘sorry, we don’t have that money anymore. You’re going to have to chase it in the federal system.'”

She went on to explain how difficult it is for people to get their money back after it is in the federal government’s possession.

“The consequence of that is people are forever without their money, even if, ultimately, their case is dismissed or they’re found not guilty or otherwise their case goes away. The federal government can still keep that money.”

To get forfeited money from federal authorities is also a costly process–one that most average people cannot afford.

Ms. Cannon considers these forfeiture actions “highway robbery” and feels “Judge Underwood deserves a medal of honor” for her bravery of threatening Mooresville officials with incarceration.

Next Thursday is the deadline for Sanders to receive his money.

FOX 46 has reached out to the Town of Mooresville and the police department and have received no comment.