Pubdate: Wed, 27 Sep 2006
Source: Dispatch, The (NC)
Copyright: 2006, The Lexington Dispatch
Author: Sean Jarem


Two men traveling south on Interstate 85 southwest of Lexington 
Tuesday told Davidson County sheriff's deputies that the $88,000 in 
cash they had hidden in their car was to buy a house in Atlanta.

Officers with the sheriff office's Interstate Criminal Enforcement 
unit didn't believe the story after a drug-sniffing dog found a 
strong odor of narcotics inside the car.

No drugs were found, and the two men weren't charged with a crime, 
but officers did keep the money, citing a federal drug assets seizure 
and forfeiture law.

Deputies first stopped the car for following too closely to another 
vehicle, said Davidson County Sheriff David Grice.

The two men told officers they had flown from Texas to New Jersey and 
were driving south to Atlanta to buy a house with the money, Grice said.

Federal investigators arrived and took the cash in order to make a 
case in federal court that the money would fall under federal forfeiture laws.

If a federal judge agrees with investigators, the Davidson County 
Sheriff's Office would receive 75 percent ($66,000) of the confiscated money.

"It takes about a year for the money to come back to the county," Grice said.

The money then would make its way into the sheriff's office general 
fund, where it could only be used for enhancement purposes, such as 
new equipment or additional training.

Grice said as a general rule the sheriff's office cannot count on 
forfeiture money, noting the money isn't a sure thing and can 
fluctuate from year to year.

But the Davidson County Sheriff's Office has had positive results in 
the past after bringing in $1.6 million in 2005 and $1.4 million in 2004.

This year Grice said officers have brought in about $400,000.

"It allows us to buy equipment without using taxpayers' money," Grice said.

Replacing older vehicles, installing newer radios in patrol cars and 
installing a new camera system in the jail were all paid for by drug 
forfeiture money, Grice said.
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