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Fake Stash House Stings: A Fabricated Crime with Real Jail Time

By Tamara Sepper

It’s a tactic that has “served to undermine legitimate law enforcement efforts in this country” and should “be relegated to the dark corridors of our past.” This pointed criticism of fake stash house sting operations came in an opinion by Rubén Castillo, a federal judge in Chicago. Increasingly, the controversial practice is falling into disrepute with jurists across the U.S. Though legal, it has been challenged on constitutional grounds in an unprecedented “criminal class action” litigation spearheaded by Alison Siegler, Founding Director of the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. She and a team of lawyers represented 43 defendants across 12 cases who alleged that the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, engaged in racial discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. I spoke with her about the Herculean effort for the second edition of Office Hours