Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Michael Reichert and the Road Pirates of Collinsville, Illinois

Professional liar Michael Reichert describes how he plants drug evidence in "training" exercises.

Michael Reichert is a professional liar and, therefore, a decorated police officer with the Collinsville, Illinois Police Department. Thanks to a video of a recent deposition, Reichert may become Collinsville’s unofficial goodwill ambassador, and the city government is understandably unhappy about that prospect.

On December 4 of last year, Reichert conducted a pretext stop of a vehicle driven by Ohio native Terrance Huff, who – along with a friend named Jon Seaton – was returning from a Star Trek convention. As is his habit, Reichert was lurking along the interstate in search of late-model cars with out-of-state license plates. 

After inventing a reason to stop Huff, Reichert carried out a long-practiced routine intended to confect “probable cause” to search the vehicle in the hope of finding contraband or cash.

Reichert’s preferred interrogation tactic is to employ a series of “rolling no” questions. After asking about drugs, weapons or cash, and receiving negative answers, he will then ask for permission to conduct a “quick search” of the vehicle. The idea is either to trick the intimidated driver into consenting to a search by saying “no” as a matter of momentum – or to treat a positive refusal to search as evidence of “evasiveness” and, therefore, probable cause.

This routine was described by Federal Judge Michael J. Reagan in a 2005 ruling that described the officer as a “polished performer” and revealed him to be someone from whom lies flow as easily as bile from a ruptured liver.

“By simply adding up `suspicious’ factors while ignoring non-suspicious or mitigating factors [in the Zambrana traffic stop], Reichert misused the `totality of circumstances’ principle as a sword to unjustly pierce Zambrana’s cloak of Fourth Amendment protection,” concluded Judge Reagan.

In that earlier case, Reichert had taken note of a rental car with out-of-state plates that supposedly “crossed the white divider line.” He then pulled behind the driver and found it suspicious that the driver “continued down the highway in a completely normal manner” despite the fact that he was being followed by a cop. It was the devious act of driving casually that prompted Reichert to pull over the driver and begin the “rolling no” routine. The driver, who was being detained at gunpoint by an armed stranger, understandably became uneasy – and this was also described as buttressing the case for a search with a drug-sniffing dog.

Judge Reagan, unlike many in his profession, was willing to acknowledge what Reichert was doing, and he wasn’t amused. Reichert, motivated by the prospect of seizing contraband, cash, and property, was “simply adding up `suspicious’ factors while ignoring non-suspicious or mitigating factors” in the hope of meeting the “totality of circumstances” test for a warrantless search. Thanks to Reichert’s “ever-evolving matrix of suspicion,” it is possible to invent “probable cause” for a search in every traffic stop.

The December 4, 2011 involving Terrance Huff was a faithful application of the tactics denounced by Judge Reagan in the 2005 case. Huff was stopped for a non-existent traffic infraction. He was subjected to the “rolling no” routine. When he balked over a search and asked if he could go, Huff was told that his passenger looked "nervous" -- a lie, naturally -- and that this supposedly gave Reichert reasonable suspicion that a search would be justified. Huff was also told that his car would have to be impounded if he didn’t consent, and that he would be given a “ride” by the officer (which would have meant putting him under arrest). 

Although Huff never gave positive consent, Reichert simply declared, "I am going to search your car." Reichert first did an external sweep using his drug-sniffing dog, Macho – with the officer clearly and obviously doing his best to prompt the dog to “alert” for narcotics. That, in turn, gave Reichert an excuse to search the interior of the SUV. 

After finding nothing, Reichert claimed that there was marijuana “shake” – or residue – in the interior, which was yet another lie. Remember this fact; we’ll come back to it shortly.

There was nothing novel about the treatment Huff experienced: The Collinsville PD conducts dozens of identical stops each week, and roughly half of its operating budget comes from seizures of cash and property through civil asset forfeiture. 

Despite – or perhaps owing to -- the fact that Reichert was fired twice after being put on the so-called Brady List (a roster of police officers whose documented dishonesty disqualifies them from testifying in court) he is in charge of instructing other Collinsville officers in the dark arts of manufacturing “probable cause” for vehicle searches. 

 This makes a certain cynical sense when it’s understood that the Collinsville PD is engaged in a cut-throat competition with road pirates in the employ of other local police agencies.

The stretch of freeway patrolled by Reichert falls under the jurisdiction of four law enforcement agencies – the city police, the municipal police from nearby St. Claire, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and the Illinois Highway Patrol. This makes it a highly coveted territory for predatory police officers hungry for a slice of the asset forfeiture plunder. 

In January 2011, Reichert was given a commendation by Collinsville Police Chief Scott Williams.  In April, Reichert was named “Officer of the Month.” This was a reward for what was described as exemplifying “the proactive and innovative philosophy of law enforcement prescribed to [sic] by the Collinsville Police Department. He has demonstrated this by his aggressive approach to drug trafficking in the area.”

“Officer Reichert had 166 total incidents with 6 arrests and 7 citations in 13 working days,” explained the department’s report. “In addition to this he had 3 self initiated significant incidents that is very worthy of praise [sic.]”

Once again: Remember the phrase “self-initiated significant incidents”; we’ll return to it anon.

The traffic stop involving Terrance Huff was entirely typical, except for the identity of the victim: Huff is a documentary filmmaker, and thus had the means to fight back. “Breakfast in Collinsville,” the short film Huff produced using dashcam footage from Reichert’s police car exposed the officer’s practiced, award-winning dishonesty to the world.

On December 4 -- his birthday, as it happens -- Huff released a follow-up entitled “Lodging in Collinsville” that has earned itself a place on what could be called the “Wrath of Khan” list – that is, the small and exclusive roster of sequels that improved upon their predecessors. The second film includes footage of a recent deposition in which Reichert admits to planting narcotics evidence on vehicles as a “training” exercise. 

Under questioning by attorney Louis Meyer, who is representing Huff in a lawsuit against the City of Collinsville, Reichert describes how he would visit parking lots and train drug-sniffing dogs by “taking … weed and wiping it on the door.” This leaves a “residue” of marijuana that can be detected up to an hour later. This “training” technique would be applied using “big trucks, U-Haul trucks, 18-wheelers, and so forth,” Reichert related.

Asked if he would get permission from vehicle owners before tainting their property with drug residue, the squirmy, sheepish officer replied that he would do so “sometimes.” In other words, he tacitly admitted that he sometimes or often does so without either asking the owners or informing them of what had been done to their vehicles.

Recall now that Reichert claimed to have found marijuana “shake” in Huff’s vehicle. That is almost certainly not the first time he has made such a claim – which is probably true in those instances involving vehicles he had previously tainted during “training” exercises. 

In his deposition Reichert disclosed that he will visit motels near the expressway and ask staff if they have seen “suspicious” people with out-of-state license plates who have paid for their rooms in cash. He also admitted that he has used vehicles in motel parking lots in “residue training” exercises.

This is how a “self-initiated significant incident” can be easily created: Reichert visits a motel parking lot, prompts a member of the productive class to say that there are “suspicious” people lodging therein, then he goes into the parking lot and plants drug “evidence” that is later used as “probable cause” for a traffic stop. 

Not surprisingly, Huff ends his video with a warning that out-of-state motorists should avoid spending the night in any of the motels found off the Bluff Road exit in Collinsville.

The reaction of the Collinsville City government was entirely predictable: Rather than demanding that Reichert and his comrades in the police department desist from their criminal behavior, they are demanding that Huff take down his video.

“I just got an e-mail from the city attorney asking to have the [Lodging in Collinsville] video taken down by the end of the day,” attorney Louis Meyer informed Pro Libertate in a December 4 phone interview. “He didn’t explain why he thought Mr. Huff had to do this. It is a publicly available document attached to our motion for summary judgment. There was nothing placed under seal, and all of this information – including the video of the deposition – was available to anybody willing to go into the clerk’s office and ask for it.”

On December 3, Collinsville city attorney Steven Giacoletto filed a motion for summary judgment invoking the familiar, and entirely specious, claim of “qualified immunity." He also filed a motion to discontinue discovery until after U.S. District Judge Reagan -- yes, the same judge that lambasted Reichert in 2005 -- rules on the summary judgement motion. For Reichert and the corrupt municipal clique that employs him, the highest priority is to prevent any further exposure of their feculent little forfeiture racket.

In their response, Huff's attorneys pointed out that "Summary judgment is only appropriate where material facts are undisputed" -- which is emphatically not the case here. Huff does not concede that he committed a traffic violation, and Reichert has never provided evidence that he did. Huff repeatedly refused consent to search the vehicle, until Reichert offered a tacit but unmistakable threat to seize the car and arrest its owner. 

After Reichert finally browbeat the innocent driver into permitting an exterior search with the drug-sniffing dog, the officer manipulated the canine into providing a false "alert": "While Reichert walked his canine around the vehicle, he gave the canine cues. The canine did not make a positive alert on Plaintiff's vehicle. With proper discovery, [Huff] will be able to prove that the alleged alert was false or even worse, fabricated. The alert was belied by the fact that there was no contraband in [the] vehicle."

"Proper discovery" is precisely what Reichert and his keepers are desperately seeking to avoid by playing the "qualified immunity" card.
Reichert's hunting ground along I-70.
 “Every time there’s an episode of police misconduct, `qualified immunity’ is the defense of first recourse,” Meyer points out. “It is determined on a case-by-case, fact-specific basis, and the benefit of the doubt is given when an officer is dealing with a murky legal situation and makes an honest error of judgment. That doesn’t apply in this case. Reichert has a documented history of dishonesty. He fabricated the excuse for the traffic stop, detained Huff and his passenger for longer than necessary, and misrepresented the findings of the drug-sniffing dog to conduct an illegal search.”

Attorney Dan Kiss, who is Meyer’s partner in a Chicago-based civil rights litigation firm, told Pro Libertate that Huff’s video – and the ensuing publicity – has caused many other victims to seek legal redress. 

“The officers involved in this enterprise aren’t out there saving crime victims,” Kiss observes. This isn’t about law enforcement. It’s about making money. And Collinsville isn’t unique. It’s pretty typical of small towns near interstates where people driving vehicles with out-of-state license plates are fair game for pirates in police uniforms.”

(This version of the essay was updated to include the name of Huff's passenger and excerpts from the legal motions filed late in the day on December 4.) 

Dum spiro, pugno!


InalienableWrights said...

Disgusting that this is the behavior that most Christians and the "law and order" crowd support.

"Government is of God" so whatever they do I alright with me....
Like I said, disgusting.

3for3 said...

Why would Inalienablewrights make an unjustified and ridiculous statement about Christians supporting these criminal police? Hmmm? Anybody? I am a Christian and I find your lack of tolerance to be offensive and disgusting. You are like these "cops" in your attempt to fabricate guilt. What I wonder is your motive?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing this information. I have shared with my friends.

It would be a wonderful victory for justice to see ALL the ill-gotten gains returned to their rightful owners. Reading that "roughly half of Collinsville PD's operating budget comes from seizures of cash and property through civil asset forfeiture". this would likely be an enormous amount of theft from the public.
Not to even mention the pay, disability and retirement these cretins receive.

Ferret said...

Regarding the takedown order for Huff's sequel, it really was the city's only option. After all, even if there weren't the police union and the blue wall of silence to deal with, they wouldn't dare fire one of their top earners.

Think about incidents like this the next time you see the URL to a police department's web site that ends in a .ORG. That designation was intended for use by non-profit organizations and as such, police departments should be using .COM if nothing else.

Show me a single gun-toting, badge-carrying agency that is not worried about revenue as job number one.

Anonymous said...

Someone should make sure the business owners, and in particular the motel owners, there see the videos

CaptainSmartass said...

You might not like hearing it but nearly every Christian I know supports the War on Drugs, often blindly. Same with every Muslim I know. On the other hand, every single atheist I know opposes it.

Of course, the plural of anecdote is not data. I'm not trying to paint with a broad brush. But many (too many) of your coreligionists are in the order-at-all-costs crowd. So don't get upset when this is pointed out.

MoT said...

"On the other hand, every single atheist I know opposes it..." Well, Captain, history shows that atheists have no problem killing anyone who gets in their way. Millions even. So while the "war on some drugs" may be supported by many knuckleheads, regardless of faith or lack thereof, at least your sensible minded compatriots know better. I also know plenty of religionists who despise TWOSD and know full well it's an evil scam. Don't fall prey to that all too easy temptation of painting with so broad a brush.

MoT said...

I find the fact that this town is clamoring to get this video pulled to be too funny by half! While they weren't getting negative attention it was business as usual, with a wink and a nod, but now with the uncomfortable attention focused on the criminality they're starting to squirm. Certainly not out of any deep moral sense. Shame on them for that. Maybe the business owners are squealing.

willb said...

People like Mr. Huff who are willing to stand up to the
cops by spending the money, the time and the aggravation
are the true heroes of our society and the persons we
should "thank for our freedom."

"Mr. Huff, thank you for my freedom."

His proactive stand will make Collinsville a safer place to live.

@InalienableWrights - I am a Christian and am against the drug war.
Mr. Grigg is a Christian and is against the drug war.
Colorado has a lot of Christians and they are against the drug war.
Washington has a lot of Christians and they are against the drug war.
All the Christians I know are against the drug war.
Saint Paul was against the drug war.
Jesus was against the drug war.
God is against the drug war.
I could give you scripture, but I'm too busy to bother, but here is
a quote from Shakespeare that I think applies to your comment:
"The lady doth protest too much methinks." -Hamlet

Marty said...

Will- how did you discover that half the budget comes from asset forfeiture funds?
what a scathing indictment of drug policing- well done.

liberranter said...

3for3 said:

Why would Inalienablewrights make an unjustified and ridiculous statement about Christians supporting these criminal police?

"Unjustified?" "Ridiculous?" Either you've never spent a Sunday morning sitting through a typical "evangelical" "Christian" sermon, or you're one of the regular congregants of such a body who can't stand to look at what he sees in the proverbial mirror but values too highly the opinions of his fellow congregants to voice a dissenting viewpoint. I'm betting it's the latter.

I am a Christian and I find your lack of tolerance to be offensive and disgusting. You are like these "cops" in your attempt to fabricate guilt. What I wonder is your motive?

A very revealing comment. Why, if you don't subscribe to what Officer Oinky and his fellow blue-clad thief-thugs are doing on the increasingly dangerous (to us Mere Mundanes) national highways, would you wax in self-righteous indignation over a comment that points out a self-evident truth? (In fact, wouldn't one of those very rare self-professed "Christians" who disagrees with the state-worshiping majority view have posted something to the effect of "Yes, sadly, my misguided fellow Christians mostly do support the Police State as an extension of Jesus's Reign on Earth. But let me make clear that not all of us believe this way and are working to sway the majority in the direction of liberty, the belief in the Rule of God as the only rule worthy of our loyalty, and the message of the Gospels.")

Methinks the "Christian" doth protest too much.

Chris Mallory said...

Lawyer Kiss needs to be corrected. It is about "law enforcement". Law enforcement is all about making money. If he had said "keeping the peace" instead of "law enforcement" he would have been correct.

A year or two ago, the Massac County Illinois was facing layoffs of government employees due to the casino not giving over as much tax money. The sheriff floated a plan to rehire the employees and to put a couple of the deputies on the job writing tickets to out of state drivers on I-24. He was very open that the deputies would only be targeting out of state drivers.

When ever possible, stay out of Illinois.

KP Ryan said...

Mr. Huff is heroic for standing up to these thugs.

Here's my question:

In Huff's first video (Breakfast in Collinsville) he asks the dirtbag: "Do I look like a drug dealer?" Dirtbag responds with something like: "If I had a crystal ball and could tell who was a user or dealer then we wouldn't have a drug problem in this country."

Now, in court Dirtbag admitted he carries WEED on his person when he's in uniform. He rubs weed on unfortunate people's cars then pulls them over. I have no doubt he rubs his weed (or whatever else he carries) on cash when he 'finds' it in cars as well, but that's beside the point for now.

So if anyone is driving thru town with 'just some personal use marijuana', it is Dirtball.

So now there's no one in Collinsville who needs a crystal ball to know who's running weed thru town in his piggypatrol vehicle. I wonder what % of the drugs Dirtbag seems so adept at confiscating actually end up in the evidence locker and not in his own pocket....

Perhaps he's the town dealer as well.

Anonymous said...

Poor Reichert and Collinsville...
their little scam has now
gone gobal and everyone knows
their secret racket.
Was it really worth it? Over
someone weaving?
Next time go after the real criminals, like Reichert.

Anonymous said...

We need a map of all the well traveled roads in the US to show travelers where these thugs patrol. Keep the map updated with travelers' experiences (town, road, date, time, officer) and let it go viral over the internet to warn drivers. I refuse to fly so I must drive. Let's make it hard for these bums. WE THE PEOPLE PAID FOR THE ROADS, AND IT IS TIME TO STOP THE ROAD BANDITS!

Anonymous said...

"Why would Inalienablewrights make an unjustified and ridiculous statement about Christians supporting these criminal police?"

He made the statement because he is rediculous. Liberranter makes a good case about evangelical meetings but that is still not the point. Religious context has nothing to do with the matter at hand. It is not Christians or non Christians that are the problem. The problem is government at all levels which operates outside the limits of the law and the sheep and clovers that support them. To turn that into an indictment of any religeous belief system is a sure sign of someone with a stunted intellect and a burr up their ass.


liberranter said...


The problem is government at all levels which operates outside the limits of the law and the sheep and clovers that support them.

Precisely. The point I was making is that many of the "sheep and clovers" who most strongly and vocally support the agents of said out-of-control government (i.e., the police and the armed forces) just happen to call themselves --proudly, I might add-- "evangelical Christians."

If they feel not only no shame, but pride in associating themselves, as such, with the unfolding terror that is engulfing us, then why should I or anyone else feel shame or regret at pointing out this association?

ray said...

another great piece, thx william

i'm a christian too, and i'll back up the first commenter

the degraded, babylon-serving "christianity" practiced by modern fakes and their false "pastors" overwhelmingly supports the "law and order" and "zero tolerance" agendas of the vast, iniquitous, avaricious criminal "justice" industry in the u.s., which was already WAY out of control thirty years ago, and by now is hopeless

christian "pastors" twist the bible around, counseling their congregants that God demands obedience to "established authroties and governments" even when such entities are clearly wicked and anti-christian

God does NOT require such submission... quite the opposite

the takeover of amerika by feminism, and the practical matriarchy under which we live, is the larger satanic context in which the vast LE industry embeds and expands

in that vein, i note the advertisement accompanying this article is for an institution called "Nova Southeastern College" offering an "M.S. in Criminal Justice"


kinda proves the point dont it?

featured in the ad is an empowered women clutching a huge black law book -- she is your future DA or Judge, she is Legion, and she and her many friends are gonna have to find SOMEBODY to arrest, prosecute, and cage in order to keep their jobs... plenty Michael ("fourth") Reicherts to help her, too

another 20 years of this, there wont be any u.s. males left that arent either LE or prisoners

nice going folks, really, well done

willb said...

We need to bring back the Geneva Bible.

The King James Bible was commissioned by guess who: King James.
I love the King James Bible but it waters down the truth about
obeisance to state power.

It was the Geneva Bible that prompted the English revolution.
Time to bring it back and set "evangelical" Christians back on the right track.

Anonymous said...

Forget bringing back the Geneva Bible I'd say its time to bring back the Guillotine

Anonymous said...

Comrades someone should tell president Hussein the anointed one about this in the hopes that he will use his smoting staff or magic scepter to banish all unfairness in the world. Ohh...whoops...that great champion of the little guy is navigating the 54 christmas tree maze on his way to a 4$ million dollar vacation to the scene of his terrible oppression at the hands of those whitey cracka grandparents and 18,000$ a year private school.

liberranter said...

BTW, am I the only one who has noticed that Michael Reichert bears more than a passing resemblance to Tony Soprano (at least in that first photo)?

Anonymous said...

Saw numerous ads on Craigslist for this, it about made me sick, the caste system in amerika is becoming more clarified:

"The Homes for Heroes foundation is a public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its mission is to provide or coordinate financial assistance and housing resources to our Nation's Heroes such as Military personnel, Police/Peace Officers, Firefighters, First Responders, Teachers and Healthcare Professionals."



Anonymous said...

when you say "December 4" do you mean 2012 ? Because it seems hard to believe Huff could obtain the dashcam video and deposition, make two films and post them, all on the day he was detained (Dec 4 2011).

police department websites could end in ".gov" too.

Anon 8:43,
if I remember, I'll try to email National Motorists Association. It's probably there already.