Sheriff’s office suspended from federal drug fund reimbursements

Published 5:18 pm Monday, January 26, 2009

Law enforcement is required by law to send drug seizure money to the U.S. Department of Justice, which keeps approximately 20 percent of the funding and sends the remainder back to the agency making the bust. The U.S. Department of Justice specifies how these reimbursement funds may be used by local law enforcement. One of the permitted uses is to buy equipment to improve drug enforcement.

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson says he and sheriff Hill recently met with a U.S. marshal, who requested an audit of the funds. Whitson says he plans to put the item on the agenda for the board of commissioners&squo; Feb. 2 meeting in order to select an auditor.

Whitson last year called for an audit of the sheriff&squo;s office special jail fund. The audit was not done because the former sheriff left office shortly afterwards and all sheriff&squo;s office funding is now going through the county finance department. Whitson did turn over all information regarding that fund to the district attorney&squo;s office in order to protect the county, he says.

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It is unclear at this point how much drug seizure money was turned into the federal government by Abril&squo;s administration. An audit of the funding could take months.

Under Abril, the sheriff&squo;s office did make several large drug seizures and seized cash related to drugs, but it is unclear how much the sheriff&squo;s office will be due from the federal government for those seizures.