Feds want to confiscate $500,000 in cash found in RV during traffic stop in Illinois

Federal authorities filed a forfeiture suit last week in regards to more than half a million dollars confiscated from a Sedona, Arizona, man during a traffic stop in May in Madison County.

Drug Enforcement Agency officers pulled over Patrick N. Barber on May 31 in an RV on westbound Interstate 70, just east of the I-55 interchange, after they say he changed lanes without signaling.

During the stop, officers said they found $510,910 in cash and allege the money is tied to dealing marijuana.

DEA Officer Larry Brantley’s report of the stop is included in the forfeiture suit, which was filed Tuesday. He said he and two other DEA officers pulled over Barber in a Ford Forest River Forester RV with Arizona plates.

Barber told Brantley he was a musician and had been recording an album in Nashville, Tennessee, for the past few weeks. Barber said he was on his way back to Sedona for a graduation ceremony.

Back at his patrol car, Brantley ran a search on Barber and learned that he had a criminal history, including a prostitution charge in Los Angeles from 1973. That, in addition to Barber avoiding his questions, led him to be even more suspicious of Barber.

After searching online, Brantley discovered that none of the direct routes from Nashville, Tennessee, to Sedona, Arzona, went through Illinois and decided to press Barber more about his travels. Though Barber had said he had been in Nashville for 10 days before leaving on May 30, Brantley said his RV was spotted in Holbrook, Arizona, on May 22.

Since Barber’s timeline did not match up with sightings of his RV in other states, Brantley said he believed Barber was engaging in criminal activity and asked if there were any narcotics or contraband inside the RV. Barber denied possessing any drugs but admitted that he had “a few thousand dollars” in the RV.

Barber had told Brantley earlier that he gives CDs away for free, but the officer said later Barber attributed the money in his RV to his CD sales.

Barber asked Brantley if he “looked like a terrorist” at some point during this conversation. The officer also wrote that once Barber rolled down the window it smelled as if Barber had just sprayed an “overwhelming” amount of cologne — Brantley wrote that officers “have seen this tactic used before when they have seized drugs and/or currency from subject” by using it as a masking agent.

A K9 officer from the Troy Police Department arrived upon request to search the RV.

While the K9 began to search, Brantley wrote that Barber and another officer stood near the patrol car. During which time, officers noted he looked nervous about the search and then said:

“I have a turd sticking out of my (expletive).”

One of the officers asked Barber to repeat what he said, Brantley wrote, and the Arizona man said it again.

When the K9 positively signaled the presence of drugs in the RV, Brantley wrote, the three DEA officers searched the living quarters of the RV and found a box inside with multiple vacuum-sealed packages of U.S. currency wrapped in aluminum foil and other bundles in the RV’s freezer.

In a search of the RV later that day at the Pontoon Beach Police Department, officers said they found a well-defined drug ledger in a box from the RV. The ledger was in a spreadsheet format and included handwritten notes. Officer said it listed different strains of marijuana and the corresponding weight and cost of each strain. It also included the total amount of profit made from the drug sales.

A handgun was also found in the RV, according to reports.

As of Sunday, Barber is not facing charges in Madison County or the Southern District of Illinois, according to online records.

Hana Muslic: 618-239-2626, @h_muslic