Court drops asset forfeiture case

FRONT ROYAL – A judge has dismissed an attempt by the prosecution to take possession of money seized from a man after law enforcement officials concluded that the money was linked to drug trafficking.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael M. Fleming filed a civil case against Jason Russell Dorsett, also known as Jason Russell Fincham, asking the court to condemn and forfeit $1,020 belonging to the defendant. The court had scheduled the matter for trial Thursday.

However, on Thursday, Fleming asked Judge Ronald L. Napier to dismiss the commonwealth’s case. If Napier grants the request, the commonwealth can still bring back the case in the future if so desired.

The information Fleming filed in the court states that Virginia law enforcement officers took possession of $1,020 in cash from Dorsett “because said property was used in substantial connection with or was proceeds derived from the illegal manufacture, sale, or distribution of a controlled substance.” Fleming goes on to state that Dorsett is the only known owner of the property.

A notice of seizure filed July 7, 2016, states that authorities with the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force seized the cash on July 1, because the money was involved in a violation of Virginia code. The notice goes on to advise Dorsett that if he objected to forfeiting his interest in the money that he must appear in the court for the scheduled hearing. The notice required Dorsett to file within 30 days, under oath, the nature of his claim to the money; the exact right, title or character of the ownership or interest in the property and the evidence; and the reason, cause, exemption or defense he might have against the forfeiture of the interest in the property.

Dorsett filed a letter with the court dated July 27, 2016, stating that he claimed a right to the seized money in the amount of $1,020.

“The money that was seized belongs to my wife, Dina Danielle Dorsett, and myself, Jason Russell Fincham,” the letter states.

Jason Dorsett states that his wife worked for a grocery store and brought home cash each day that she had him carry for protection. Jason Dorsett adds that he worked for another individual from whom he received a check each week.

“I swear under oath as well as my wife, that we did not derive these funds from any type of illegal activity as the attached documentation proves,” the letter states. “None of this money was gained by any other means. The money was to be used for bills and school supplies and clothing.”

Dorsett submitted a letter signed by his wife’s store manager confirming her employment at the business and weekly salary. Dorsett also submitted a letter from his employer for whom he began his employment May 16, 2016.