IN Police Spent $400K in Forfeiture Funds on Salaries & Benefits

by | Mar 1, 2017

IN Police Spent $400K in Forfeiture Funds on Salaries & Benefits

by | Mar 1, 2017

Federal Audit: Indiana Agencies Spent $400,000 in Forfeiture Funds on Salaries, Benefits

Indiana law enforcement spent over $400,000 in federal asset forfeiture funds to pay the salaries, overtime and fringe benefits for its officers, according to a federal audit released last week. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, the audit examined more than $800,000 in expenditures made by the sheriff’s office for Henry County, Indiana in 2014 and 2015. That figure also included nearly $380,000 the Henry County Sheriff’s Office transferred to other law enforcement agencies.

The money in question derived from a federal forfeiture program known as “equitable sharing.” Through equitable sharing, participating local and state agencies can transfer seized property to federal authorities for forfeiture under federal law, and be rewarded with up to 80 percent of the proceeds. Equitable sharing has become increasingly controversial, in part because agencies do not need to secure a criminal conviction, or even file criminal charges, before forfeiture can occur. One in-depth investigation into equitable sharing by The Washington Post found that “in 81 percent of cases no one was indicted.”

In Henry County, the sheriff’s office spent nearly $180,000 in equitable sharing funds to pay the salary and fringe benefits of a deputy who was transferred to a drug interdiction task force. According to federal guidelines, agencies generally may not use equitable sharing to fund salaries and benefits for personnel, “so that the prospect of receiving equitable sharing funds does not influence, or appear to influence, law enforcement decisions.”

Read the rest at the Institute for Justice.

About Nick Sibilla

As a Communications Associate for the Institute for Justice, Nick Sibilla regularly writes opeds and blog posts and enhances IJ’s presence on social media. He is also a contributor to Forbes.com, where he covers civil forfeiture, occupational licensing, food freedom and the First Amendment.

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