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UPDATED: Caswells Lose Round 1, Forfeiture Case Heading To Trial

Federal judge denies motion by Motel Caswell lawyers to dismiss the case.

Round 1 has gone to the Federal Government in their property forfeiture case against t

But lawyers representing the motel and its owner, Russ Caswell, say the fight is a long way from over.

According to a press release issued last week by The Institute for Justice, U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein, denied a motion by Caswell that the government's case be dismissed on procedural and Constitutional grounds.

As a result, the case will move forward to trial in U.S. District Court, some time later this year.

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed. We would have liked to have this whole thing taken care of," said Russ Caswell. "But it may be a blessing in disguise. It will give us more of a chance to get our side of things out there and show just how ridiculous this whole thing is."

Two years ago, under Federal Civil Forfeiture Laws, the U.S. Department of Justice began forfeiture proceedings against Caswell and his motel. In its complaint, the government alleges a pattern of ongoing drug trafficking and other illegal activities by guests at the motel and that Caswell has not done enough to try and stop such activities.

Last year, the case caught the attention of The Institute For Justice, a non-profit law firm that specializes in battling the U.S. Government in the courtroom, if it believes the government has overstepped its bounds. The group agreed to defend Caswell for free.

"The Caswells are innocent of any wrongdoing and for 30 years have done their best to maintain a crime-free and safe budget motel," said Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, in the press release. "This case shows all that is wrong with civil forfeiture and we look forward to demonstrating that at trial."

Russ Caswell was not immediately available for comment on the initial court ruling.

J. S. July 05, 2012 at 03:12 PM
How is this any different than taking away someone's home who repeatedly has the police called there? Would that be ok? I assume not. The government should never be allowed to seize personal property, especially if they will then profit from it. I am glad to see that people are standing up for the Caswell's.
Sue July 05, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I liked your first comment better Christina. taking away their license would be a solution. Thank you I never thought of that. I guess I am so frustrated by the situation and find it morally wrong what they do there. My old neighbor was a housekeeper there and these people clearly know what is going on in their rooms but it brings in money for them. In my opinion it makes them accessories to the crime but I am not a lawyer just a frustrated townie who knows a thing or two about what actually goes on there. Also I am not a busy body with nothing to do just the opposite but a townie yes and I love this town.
Janellen27 July 05, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Q: What in the world does the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) have to do with The Caswell? Just wondering . . . . By the way, The Caswell and Motel 6 aren't the only problems in town, though that's two more than we need right there. I hear the Extended Stay has quite a drug business going on as well; stands to reason there would be the accompanying activities (prostitution, assaults, robberies, etc.). It bothers me that we have any motels/hotels because all they really do for the town is draw drug dealers and hookers and tie up the Police, Fire and Ambulance who we have hired to protect our own citizens. If they're busy at The Caswell, The Motel 6, The Extended Stay, and other every night of the week, what do you think happens when someone in So. Tewksbury is experiencing a home invasion at gunpoint, for example, or a heart attack, or child seizure, and so on. This Caswell Story has been going on for decades. It's not new and nobody tried to take away anyone's property without real good reason and plenty of warnings. They tell me you can see the bedbugs scrambling around in the rooms. . . added to the prostitution, drugs, A&B's, OD's, etc.. (On the other hand, if The Caswell goes out, that's a huge chunk of change lost for the Chinese Restaurant across the street, too!)
Marie P Garavanian July 06, 2012 at 01:29 AM
What large corporation or financial entity is behind taking the Caswell's valuable commercial hotel property away and hiding behind the pretense "for the good of the community?" If you want the drug and prostitution trades to be eliminated, start the process in your own homes. Eliminate smoking pot, excessive use of alcohol, loosely taught morals or none at all, etc. When you allow a government to take property under thinly disguised righteous laws, then you are destroying Democracy. From The One
Janellen27 July 06, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Marie, you sound like you may be new in town, or at least naively uninformed about the decades-old goings on at The Caswell. There is an immense history here of things that would make your hair stand on-end and non-compliance. Do a little backfround research and it will make a bit more sense to you.

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