A Federal judge has ordered Nebraska cops to return more than $1 million confiscated at a traffic stop to exotic dancer Tara Mishra of Rancho Cucamonga, California.
Mishra began saving one dollar at a time when she started dancing at age 18, and after 15 years, she had saved a million dollars. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon wrote that Mishra planned to use to start her own business with the savings, and get out of the stripping business.
According to court documents, Mishra planned to buy a nightclub in New Jersey. She would own half the club and her friends, Rajesh and Marina Dheri of New Jersey, would own the other half.
The Dheris were driving Mishra's cash cross-country in a rented car when Nebraska State Troopers pulled them over for speeding in March 2012. A state trooper asked the Dheris if he could search their vehicle, and they consented.
The tropper found the cash, which Mishra grouped in $10,000 bundles tied with hair bands and wrapped in plastic bags. Suspecting it was drug money, the trooper took the Dheris into custody.
But Bataillon wrote that police did not find any evidence of drugs in the car, and a K-9 search found only trace elements of illegal drugs on the cash.
"The government failed to show a substantial connection between drugs and the money," Bataillon wrote. "The dog sniff is inconsequential."
"The court finds the Mishras’ story is credible," Battalion wrote. "Ms. Mishra did have control over the money and directed the Dheris to deliver the money to New Jersey for the purchase of the business."
Bataillon ordered Nebraska to pay Mishra $1,074,000 with interest in cash or a check.