It’s a victory for the stripper after a court ordered the Miami-Dade Police Department to return nearly $20,000 in cash to the woman and her husband, as well as pay for legal bills incurred in the case.
The department has agreed to pay more than $3,000 in attorney fees to lawyers hired by Ras Cates, 33 and his wife, 20-year-old Lizmixell Batista, a stripper at Cheetah Gentleman’s Club in Hallandale Beach.
The couple was arrested on May 25 in Miami after police seized six guns including three assault-type rifles, suspected marijuana oil and several bottles of codeine that did not have valid prescriptions.
The police also confiscated a total of $19, 934 in bills that were found in Batista’s wallet. The police seized the money as they believe it was from illegal drug-dealing. Batista, however, argued that she was carrying so much cash then because she was supposed to go to the bank to deposit the money. A body-camera footage of the arrest incident showed the stripper telling the officers: “We’ve got bills to pay, sweetie.”
A friend of Batista, Haley Heath also testified during the hearing that the stripper earned “significant cash tips” at the Cheetah Club.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith ruled there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered the money returned to the couple.
The couple was charged with armed drug dealing and other felony charges. The couple’s lawyers, however, challenged the arrest and prosecutors dropped the case.
It worked to the couple’s advantage that the body-camera footage showed that the police did not receive permission then to search Cates’ trunk. Prosecutor Johnathan Nobile wrote in a memo later that the search was illegal.
Cates also legally owned the weapons and had a valid concealed-weapons permit.