- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) - The city of Bay St. Louis is asking the Department of Justice to look into the handling of $186,000 in forfeiture money.

The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1MzD0QQ ) the issue arose Tuesday after council members asked Police Chief Mike De Nardo the balance of his department’s forfeitures fund. The council said the reconciliation of the fund is holding up the city’s annual audit.

When De Nardo said it was about $186,000, the council realized the city had less than half that amount, about $80,000, in its general fund.

Mayor Les Fillingame said the police department used some of it after it was placed in the general fund.

“Well, it was definitely going into the general fund, and it was definitely being spent on the police department,” Fillingame said.

When asked by the council, however, De Nardo said the $186,000 is what remains after his department’s expenditures.

“That money cannot be spent on (just) anything,” said Councilman Mike Favre. “It’s very specific what it’s spent on. We’ve talked about this before, and to sit here and say it’s been spent on the police department is not accurate. This is serious.”

Jeremy Skinner, commander of the Hancock County Narcotics Task Force, said forfeitures arise when law enforcement seizes assets from suspects and courts later order the assets be forfeited to the agency.

Laws dictate the assets be used by the law enforcement agency that seized them to further specific crime-fighting efforts such as conducting undercover drug purchases, Skinner said.

He said municipalities may not use the forfeitures for their payroll or other such expenses, noting the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office uses its forfeitures solely for narcotics enforcement.

The council also voted to resume putting the police forfeitures in a separate bank account. Council member Lonnie Falgout said that was the practice until the account was closed in 200i9.

Fillingame said he supported a revised by the Justice Department.

___

Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide