- Associated Press - Friday, December 8, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - More than $520,000 seized by police in drug and money laundering cases did not make it into state coffers during 2015 and 2016, according to an audit of the state Criminal Justice Division.

The audit for 2015 and 2016 found that more than $108,000 that was supposed to be turned over from local and state police departments to the prosecutors’ office was more than a year overdue. And more than $28,000 should have been received over a decade ago.

“The gist of our audit is that the agency should be doing a better job collecting these forfeited funds so they can be used for the purposes they’re supposed to be used for,” said auditor John Geragosian.

Under state law, the money is supposed to end up in Connecticut’s Drug Assets Forfeiture Revolving Account, which is used to help fund substance abuse treatment and education programs and for investigating and prosecuting drug crimes.

The Criminal Justice Division said staffing limitations are in part to blame for slow collections, but said it is making the issue a priority. The division said it has since cut the amount overdue by more than a year to about $54,000.

Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Leonard Boyle noted that the $520,000 figure shows just a snapshot of a moment in a process that requires prosecutors to request the money and a judge to sign an order before the administrative part of the transfer begins.

“If we had any information that someone was misusing those funds, that would be a whole different story,” he said. “This is a matter of process and paperwork being handled properly and priorities. As police departments are stressed dealing with priority matters, sometimes administrative issues get pushed to the side for a while.”

The audit shows Bridgeport Police are responsible for 51 percent of the money that was owed to the state for more than a year. State police and other major cities accounted for most of the rest of the funds, according to the audit.

Boyle said the state police account is now up to date.

Av Harris, a spokesman for the Bridgeport police department, said they would have a comment after looking into the auditors’ findings.

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