Drug Booty May Aid Feds, Police

Drug Booty May Aid Feds, Police
Posted by FoM on January 22, 2000 at 08:25:45 PT
By Susan Greene, Denver Post Staff Writer
Source: Denver Post
The U.S. Justice Department and local law-enforcement agencies are banking on a windfall from the millions of dollars seized in a recent marijuana-ring bust.Justice officials have confiscated more than $10 million in cash over the past month in a marijuana investigation involving kingpin Robert Henry Golding, 43, who killed himself during a traffic stop Friday in Kansas.
On behalf of the Justice Department, Denver-based U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland's office will try to snag at least some of the $6 million seized in Fort Collins, Pennsylvania and Iowa.That stash rivals the $6.75 million the Justice Department spends annually paying Colorado's team of 56 in the U.S. Attorney's Office and 64 support staffers."It just shows the huge scale of some of these drug trafficking operations," Strickland said Friday.Or, as U.S. attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner said, "Putting it in that context, it's a lot of dough." The Justice Department is likely to share part of the loot with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Aurora Police and Englewood Police, which helped in the Drug Enforcement Administration investigation.The DEA is expected to take 20 percent - about $1.2 million - "off the top for administrative purposes," said agency spokesman Ron Hollingshead. That money likely would go into the Justice Department's nationwide general fund.Hollingshead insisted his agency doesn't profit from seizing money, "or we wouldn't have a national deficit." The remaining 80 percent - about $4.8 million - is expected to be divided according to the percentage of time each agency worked on the probe.The final decision about which agencies get how much falls personally to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.Colorado state government stands to gain nothing of the treasure trove, given that the cash was confiscated under a federal search warrant, and state officials weren't involved.Kansas, in contrast, is seeking $3.8 million seized in Colby, Kan., by that city's police department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation under a state warrant. The money was found in a rental car carrying Golding after an illegal turn led to the traffic stop and his suicide."I guess you could say that Kansas really scored," Colorado Deputy Attorney General Ken Lane said Friday.On behalf of the Justice Department and local law enforcement, Strickland's office will seek just under $6 million confiscated in 11 boxes containing mostly $20 bills in a Fort Collins storage facility. The cash has been fingerprinted, photographed and deposited for safekeeping at the Federal Reserve in Denver.The Justice Department also plans to claim rights to $47,000 from Golding's bank account in Allentown, Pa., plus $5,000 seized from Golding's bank account in Des Moines, Iowa.Strickland's office plans a judicial process to formally and legally seize the $6,047,525, during which anyone who can prove a claim to the money can come forward."We're thinking that's probably unlikely," Dorschner said of possible claimants to the drug money.Although the stash in Fort Collins was the largest sum ever seized in Colorado, federal officials note it's not the first big find here. In 1989, officials seized about $4 million in cash from a semi-truck stopped stopped at a port of entry. Eagle County, Vail and federal agencies shared the booty.More recently, 13 law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado enjoyed $280,000 in shared assets with the Justice Department in 1998, while 14 agencies snagged $204,253 in 1999.Whatever the amount seized in any given year, Strickland noted his office works on a fixed budget.The extra money could come in handy for Douglas County, Aurora and Englewood, which would be required to use it for law enforcement.Still in question is whether the dollars those municipalities stand to gain would be subject to Colorado's Amendment One, the 1992 Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which requires rebates for taxpayers when government revenues exceed certain limits.State officials said Friday that the spoils likely wouldn't count as local revenue under the law because they would be funneled through the U.S. Justice Department. Federal funds are exempt from TABOR limits.Denver Post staff writer Marilyn Robinson contributed to this report.Published: January 22, 2000Copyright 1999-2000 The Denver Post
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