Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Seek to Keep $22,530 from Bust; They Can Attempt to Do So under the State's Contraband Forfeiture Act

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Seek to Keep $22,530 from Bust; They Can Attempt to Do So under the State's Contraband Forfeiture Act

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

JACKSONVILLEBEACH - Authorities are presenting a money counter and a marijuana grow house diagram seized in a drug bust this month as evidence to help them keep $22,530 in cash that they also found during the raid.

If they succeed in proving the money came from illegal activity, the money will go to the Jacksonville Beach Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which pays for public safety programs and police equipment to help fight crime.

Authorities are pursuing the Jacksonville Beach case under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, which lets assets from drug cases help support crime-fighting programs without using tax dollars.

Police spent $12,400 in trust fund money this year for a volunteer coordinator to work part time to oversee Citizens on Patrol, which provides traffic direction, parking enforcement, school crossing guards and a support team for major incidents and special events. They spent another $12,326 from the fund on equipment to protect officers who could respond to a terrorist incident or chemical attack.

In 2006, St. Johns County kicked off its Code Red Program, a countywide emergency notification system, with $30,000 from that county's Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

Forfeitures often produce the toughest penalties for drug dealers, said Regina Durfee, a prosecutor who handles the State Attorney's Office drug forfeiture proceedings.

"It hits the drug dealers pretty hard," she said. "It's a huge deterrent, I think."

Durfee is presently handling 300 forfeiture cases in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Duval, Clay and Nassau counties.

The Jacksonville Beach case started with a Sept. 10 domestic dispute in the 100 block of 19th Avenue North. Police found a woman crying in the bathroom and four marijuana plants in the bathtub. …

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