Film critic caught with undeclared cash in Windsor-Detroit tunnel
A prominent American movie critic stands to lose about US$12,000 cash after U.S. border guards found the undeclared money in the man's cigar box at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said former New York Times writer Elvis Mitchell was trying to enter Detroit in a taxi on April 27. The cab was stopped, and a search of Mitchell's belongings uncovered the box full of money along with some Cuban cigars.
"He gave us a declaration for $80, and they found $12,000 U.S. and the cigars," said Chief Ron Smith of U.S. CBP.
On Friday, the U.S. federal government filed an application to keep the cash.
Rita Foley of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan described the action as a "civil forfeiture complaint.
"It's an interim action against the property itself which was used in violation of a federal law," Foley said.
U.S. law requires anyone who carries more than $10,000 in currency when leaving or entering the country to report it to authorities.
"There was $12,000 that was the subject of the civil forfeiture action. Another $117 was on Mr. Mitchell's person, but that was returned to him for humanitarian reasons at the border," Foley said.
Foley said Mitchell will have an opportunity to make a claim for the money in federal court.
Mitchell couldn't be reached for comment at press time.
The Detroit-born film critic was in Windsor to cross the border to the U.S. after flying to Toronto three days earlier from his New York home.
When Mitchell left the New York Times in 2004, the newspaper published an article describing him as "flamboyant" and "bigger than life" with a "stream-of-consciousness quality" to his review writing.
Along with his film reviews for The New York Times, Mitchell's work has been published in the Detroit Free Press, L.A. Weekly and Esquire magazine. He's held editor-at-large positions at Interview and Spin magazine.
His television work includes appearances on Roger Ebert & The Movies and the HBO series Entourage. He currently hosts a public radio show that has featured interviews with the likes of screenwriter David Mamet and Chris Nolan, director of The Dark Knight.