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updated: 12/9/2010 6:31 PM

Aurora brothers claim life savings stolen by police

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Two Aurora brothers are fighting to get back just more than $190,000 of their life savings they say was improperly and illegally seized by Aurora police after a traffic stop in October.

Jesus and Jose Martinez say they were bringing the money to their father so he could pay off his mortgage and retire in Mexico.

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Aurora police say that even though no charges were filed from the traffic stop, the matter was part of an ongoing drug dealing investigation.

The city has not returned the money, despite a court order telling it to do so, and it is in the possession of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

A judge will revisit the matter Jan. 5 in Kane County civil court in Geneva.

The Martinez brothers filed a court petition last month, arguing police had no right to seize the $190,040 from Jesus Martinez after a traffic stop. They said it was their only recourse after police refused to give the money back.

"The defendant, city of Aurora, through its police department, has taken the life savings of the plaintiff but has not charged them with any wrongdoing," said part of the suit filed by the Martinez's attorney, Patrick Kinnally.

Kathleen Colton, an attorney initially contacted by the Martinez brothers about the case, said the pair were intimidated by police, who are "concocting" a story to justify the seizure.

Kane County Judge Michael Colwell, who recently retired, ordered the city on Nov. 29 to return the money, plus interest and court costs. But the city appealed and it was denied earlier this week on a technical issue.

Dan Ferrelli, Aurora's public information officer, referred questions to John Murphey, an attorney representing the city. Murphey did not respond to inquiries, but the city did issue a statement saying it was assisting the Illinois State Police in a "lawful and ongoing" narcotics investigation.

Ferrelli did release a 12-page report in which Aurora police officers detailed their surveillance on Jesus Martinez and another man by the state police and North Central Narcotics Task Force.

The pair were to meet a guy with an alias of "Charlie" in a minivan for an "exchange" at about 8 p.m. Oct. 18 at a shopping center on the city's far west side, the report said.

The report shows that Martinez's white GMC Yukon was pulled over at Indian Trail and Timberlake roads, and a police dog search did not turn up any drugs. Police did find 38 white envelopes with money that Martinez said he took five years to save up.

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