Judge orders government to pay attorney fees in money seizure case

2014-01-28T19:00:00Z 2014-01-29T23:55:37Z Judge orders government to pay attorney fees in money seizure caseBy the Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

A Nebraska federal judge has ordered the government to pay a California woman's attorney fees spent fighting for the return of more than $1 million seized in a stop on Interstate 80.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon granted Tara Mishra's motion for the $39,035 payment.

She already had paid her attorney for 106.6 hours he spent on the case, so the judge directed the money go directly to her.

In his order Monday, Bataillon said the court would not generally award $500 per hour as an attorney fee because that's not the going rate for most attorneys in this district.

But in this case, the government didn't disagree with the amount, the judge said, and he found it reasonable.

In July, Bataillon ordered the return of $1,074,900 to the Rancho Cucamonga woman, saying the government had proved "no nexus between the currency and any illegal activity."

Troopers found the cash -- mostly in bundles of $100s -- in plastic bags with dryer sheets in a March 2012 search of Rajesh Dheri's rental car on I-80 near North Platte. They seized it believing it was related to narcotics.

At a bench trial, Mishra said it was her life savings, earned as an exotic dancer, and the judge found in her favor.

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