Sidney Potts, a notorious drug kingpin convicted in 2013 of running narcotics through his Longview car dealership, won’t get back the money or vehicles Longview police seized from him as ill-gotten gains.
Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Anne Cruser on Friday, Sept. 7 granted the city of Longview summary judgment in Potts’ civil suit, finding the city is entitled to 22 vehicles originally seized in Potts’ criminal case. Her ruling dismisses the complaint filed by Potts Family Motors Inc., which investigators said Potts used as a front to sell drugs.
Cruser found that Potts Family Motors had no claim to forfeited tools and vehicles because they belonged to Potts or third parties, not to the dealership. Potts in May had previously lost an earlier bid to recover about $2,500 of the more than $33,000 in cash police seized from him.
Because Potts claimed ownership of all the property, the court couldn’t grant it to Potts Family Motors.
“As the judge said, he wants to be Potts Family Motors inc. when it suits him, and Mr. Potts when it doesn’t,” city attorney John Justice said. “I think it was an attempt to try to create a technicality, and the court saw through that.”
Potts Family Motors already has asked Cruser to reconsider her decision, according to the city’s attorney’s office.
Potts, 67, is serving a 34-year prison sentence for running what prosecutors called a local “drug empire.” Police said Potts used Potts Family Motors car lot as a front to run drugs. During his arrest in 2012, authorities seized property including $10,000 worth of meth from three of his properties, including his car dealership.
Potts’ civil case asked for the return of some of those seized assets, including a cellphone, memory card, cars, cash, and more. Even if Potts had won his civil case, he wouldn’t have gotten those possessions back, since the police department auctioned them off. Instead, the court would have decided their cash value and awarded that amount to Potts.
He did win back some tools in a separate case. The Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction but granted him his tools back in his separate criminal case in 2016. The court found that a warrant police used to search his properties was unlawful since it only listed one of those properties.
State law allows law enforcement to seize money or property obtained in exchange for a controlled substance or used to facilitate drug violations. This includes property purchased with money obtained through narcotics trafficking.