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KNOXVILLE — Forget the legality of the roadside seizure of El Willis' cash. A federal magistrate judge on Tuesday had a more basic question -- what right did a Monroe County law enforcer have to even open up Willis' locked money bag?

For nearly an hour Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley grilled Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne-Marie Svolto about the controversial February seizure of $18,480 from Willis, who wasn't found to have any drugs in his possession or in the car in which he was a passenger, and who has never been charged with a crime.

Records filed in U.S. District Court show Monroe County Sheriff's Office Detective Bobby Queen stopped the car after driver Shonta Wilson failed to use a turn signal for a lane change on Interstate 75. Wilson was charged with driving on a suspended license. Queen ordered Willis to step out of the car for a pat-down to make sure he wasn't armed. Instead of a gun, he found a locked money pouch tucked in Willis' waistband.

Read more at Knoxnews.com

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