August 5, 2008, - 3:24 pm

Something Fishy: Turner/NYTimes Movie Critic Hid $$$, Cuban Cigars From Border Agents

By Debbie Schlussel
There’s something fishy about former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell’s run-in with border agents at the Detroit-Canada border.
Mitchell currently hosts “TCM Presents Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence,” on cable’s Turner Classic Movies. And I just don’t buy his story about why he lied about and concealed almost $12,000 in U.S. currency he snuck in and out of Canada, along with those illegal Cuban cigars.
He’s now fighting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in court to try to get the money back. But I don’t think he should get it. Something weird is going on here. Why would you take almost $12K in cash over the border? What was he doing with the money? And why did he lie about it to police? I don’t believe his excuses for a second:


Movie Critic Elvis Mitchell:

Caught in Border Shenanigans @ Detroit-Windsor Tunnel

Nationally known film critic Elvis Mitchell — who grew up in Highland Park, graduated from Wayne State University and reviewed movies for the Free Press in 1987 — is trying to get back nearly $12,000 he carried in a cigar box through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
Mitchell was entering Detroit in a cab from Windsor on April 26 when a luggage search turned up $11,817 in U.S. currency and 15 Cuban cigars, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The agency wants to keep the cash because Mitchell didn’t declare it in Detroit or three days earlier when he flew to Toronto from New York. Anyone carrying more than $10,000 outside the country or into the United States must report it.
Mitchell said he grabbed the wrong box when he left home in New York and was too embarrassed to disclose the money.
“An awful and dumb situation,” Mitchell said Monday.
The government on Friday filed a request in U.S. District Court to keep the money.
It is unclear what happened to the cigars.

Why would he be “too embarrassed to disclose the money”? I don’t get it. I think he didn’t disclose it for a reason. What’s he involved with? What do you think?
Also, for any ICE or CBP agents reading, why does ICE get the cash? Wasn’t this stuff found by Customs and Border Protection agents at the border?
Kudos to the sharp agents who caught Mitchell.

14 Responses

The only people who try to smuggle such a large sum of cash over the border are up to no good. Technically, its not a crime to have a few grand of cash on your person but it makes you look like a suspect. Good luck proving the money wasn’t derived from the proceeds of a crime.

NormanF on August 5, 2008 at 3:55 pm

This sort of thing happens with me all the time. I have several cigar boxes at home full of pictures, cash, seashells and other personal keepsakes. I can see how easy it would be to accidently grab your cash box when you meant to grab your picture box. And he’s probably embarrased that he only carries such a small amount of cash around.

PrincessKaren on August 5, 2008 at 4:24 pm

NormanF, $11K is NOT a large sum of money. I can’t even buy into a decent Poker game with a bankroll that small.
This story annoys me for two reasons. The first is that the government seems to think it owns me. Money represents the value of my work, and thus me. If they own that, then they own me. The second is that another liberal appears to be trying to break the law.
No, not the money; the cigars. If he had not been caught with those, I would have said that the ICE/IRS should get stuffed. Sorry but the cash laws in this country annoy me and are wildly out of date. More and more every day our civil liberties are being destroyed. Especially after finding out that my laptop, cell phone, and PDA are now on the terrorist watch list, and can be grabbed by the government; and then it’s contents can be perused on a whim.
As you can tell from my blog, I am NOT a bleeding-heart-liberal-do-gooder-save-the-whales-destroy-America type of guy. I am however, quickly losing faith in My Government. It’s posture of ‘trying to protect me’ seems to more about controlling me than about controlling the terrorists/illegal aliens/criminals.
Oh wait to this government I am a criminal because I have the audacity to play poker, and use OMG! cash!

Mark L. Jackson on August 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Hey Mark, carrying the cash is not illegal. All you have to do is tell the customs guy and show a receipt from your bank. Their always polite and its not a problem.

PrincessKaren on August 5, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Since when is it illegal to carry the coin of the realm, cash.
Our Government is turning into a bunch of NAZI storm troopers IMHO. It is none of their damn business why anyone has cash unless they can PROVE the person acquired it illegally.
I agree with you Mark Jackson, it is apparent that some people think we are guilty until we prove ourselves innocent. The mere possession of money is not a crime but some think it should be.
PrincessKaren-Why should any law abiding citizen have to cough up a receipt from a bank for cash?

ScottyDog on August 5, 2008 at 6:42 pm

The best place in the US to buy Cuban cigars is: Miami. Notwithstanding public anti-Castroism, Miami Cubans never gave up the cigars. However, Dominican suppliers consistently beat Cubans in customer polls. The reason: Dominicans has access to better pesticides; the Cubans have to hand sort to exclude insect damage, and they use ammonia in place of other treatment methods.

supercargo on August 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm

A lot of cash goes from Detroit to Windsor, because the Canadian city has a large tax-free earnings casino. I know one betting system that involves putting down $12000 in cash increments. Another system requires $18000. However, I will let the DJ explain it for himself.

supercargo on August 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm

CUBAN CIGARS. Does anyone know the whereabouts of William Jefferson Clinton?

Jackson Pearson on August 5, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Thanks Debbie!
I guess we have to point out that this guy carried the ‘Coin of the Real’ i.e. ‘cash’ OUTSIDE of the realm to i.e Canada!
Perhaps he should have changed his ‘Dollars’ to ‘Dollars’ LOL

PrincessKaren on August 6, 2008 at 12:10 am

I do have a problem with it just like I have a problem that my bank reports me to Homeland Security for having any cash transactions over $3,000 because of the Patriot Act(NAZI Act). It is a violation of my privacy and it is none of the Governments business what I do with my money unless I violate the law.
What really gets my underwear in a wad is the law says anything over $10,000 has to reported yet the Government wants to steal all of this guys money.Theoretically they have a right to claim about $1,817 of his cash but just like the mafia they want to steal all of his money.
There is nothing that gives the Federal Government the right in our form of Constitutional Government to force law abiding Americans to report cash transactions to the Government without due process.
I agree with Mark that we are losing our Liberties and this case illustrates why people like me think they are already gone.

ScottyDog on August 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm

The monetary reporting requirements are just one way to try and target bulk cash smuggling. There are plenty of law abiding citizens (and non- citizens) who cross our borders everyday and report large amounts of cash far in excess of $12,000. The bottom line is if you are not trying to hide some illegal activity or avoid giving “Uncle Sam” his fair share, you should not have a problem reporting the money.
Sounds like ScottyDog is way overdue for a ticket to the Great White North. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

lsellers on August 6, 2008 at 9:16 pm

“The bottom line is if you are not trying to hide some illegal activity or avoid giving “Uncle Sam” his fair share, you should not have a problem reporting the money”
Spoken like a true brown shirt or more than likely an employee of the Customs service where following the Constitutional principles this country was founded on are out of fashion.
Only 40 years ago, when I was a child, my parents could drive to the airport 1/2 hour before takeoff, choosing for themselves whether they wished to wear a seatbelt or not, smoke a cigarette in the airport terminal while they checked their luggage, be accompanied to the gate by their friends and relatives and, after showing their passport and ticket at the gate, board their plane with little or no hassle. There were no men with machine guns walking the corridors of the airport. There were no menacing dogs trained to sniff at each and every citizen in the complex. If there were policemen at the airport they dressed in the manner befitting a civilian peace officer and not in the fashion of a paramilitary storm trooper. Somehow, despite all of this, we survived. Indeed we thrived. Indeed so did almost everyone else!
I will leave you with a quote from one of our founding fathers that also helped write our Constitution;
“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

ScottyDog on August 7, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Elvis Mitchell is the King of Frauds. He has proposed marriage to multiple women, then never called them again. He is the Sammy Davis Jr. of film critics, a foot-stomping, fake-laughing minstrel doing all he can to obviate his blackness. He’s about as black as David Duke. And that voice of his! Sounds like someone is pinching his larynx when he speaks!! Believe me, this guy was carrying that amount of money to buy himself some affection, ’cause he hasn’t a real friend in the world.

aristophanes on September 5, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Is this true about Elvis? He proposes marriage? To who??? Never calls them again? Women in New York or Los Angeles?

Marina on May 21, 2010 at 10:51 pm

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