John Newmerzhycky and William “Bart” Davis, a pair of poker players fresh off a trip to a WSOP Circuit event back in 2013, were stopped by Iowa State Patrol resulting in, what they say, was an illegal search and seizure of over $100,000.
The incident led to their homes being searched, charges being brought and, according to USA Today, even a stroke for Newmerzhycky. Now, the pair have filed a lawsuit to fight back in what they say is a tale of unconstitutional actions and profiling on the part of Iowa state police.
The cliff notes of this tale have the recent participants of the tournament driving from Illinois back to California when the Iowa State Patrol were “tipped off” about a potentially criminal vehicle passing through the state. The police pull the pair over using the reason that they failed to signal when passing another car and then used that excuse to interview the players. At the end of the interview, the trooper allows the men to leave, but right before they do, they reverse their decision, call in a K9 unit and proceed to search the car.
They find large amounts of cash (allegedly the players bankroll) as well as a “grinder” (which if we understand, is used to prepare weed before smoking) with a tiny amount of pot residue inside. Boom. Cash seized, men questioned and cited for drug paraphernalia and finally released. Their California homes were then raided the next day.
Turns out that the dashboard cam on the troopers car show that the poker players did use their signal and that everything that came after that may have been completely invalidated. The pair have been fighting the seizure ever since and have even recovered about 90K along with having the CA charges have been dropped.
But for the poker players, there was much more lost and so to court this case looks to go.
Newmerzhycky also wants to be compensated for damage to his health that he believes was brought on by legal troubles. He had a glass-blowing business he hoped to restart, but suffered a stroke after learning about the California charges.
“They destroyed my life, destroyed my reputation, destroyed my health,” he said.