Money seized in a drug arrest in Ohio County last spring will now help the Ohio County Sheriff's Department pay for gasoline for its cruisers.
More than $100,000 seized in a May drug arrest will be distributed to Ohio County law enforcement agencies, and officials have already considered how best to utilize the funding.
Ohio County Sheriff Tom Burgoyne and Ohio County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Smith today announced that local law enforcement agencies associated with the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force will be sharing $115,810 seized in a May traffic stop on Interstate 470 near Bethlehem. The Ohio County Sheriff's Department, the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force, the Wheeling Police Department and the Bethlehem Police Department were involved with the stop that led to the arrest of Timothy Ingram, of Pittsburgh, on drug charges.
Ingram was stopped for speeding, and the arresting officer noticed a smell of marijuana in the vehicle. The officer was given permission to search the vehicle, and that search resulted in the recovery of a small amount of marijuana and the more than $100,000 in bills ranging from 5-100. The money was packaged in $1,000 packets found in a duffle bag along with a set of scales.
The seizure was challenged in Ohio County Circuit Court before Judge Martin Gaughan who, on Sept. 29, ruled the search of the man's vehicle was valid, and the money was properly seized. Smith said the ruling was not announced until today, because of the time allowed for appeals.
Ingram's 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser also was seized. It will be sold, and the proceeds will be distributed.
Today, Burgoyne and Smith said they have already considered how the money will be best spent. Smith said he intends to use the funding to purchase audio-visual equipment for use in courtrooms, and Burgoyne said it appears his $60,000 gasoline budget is covered with the $62,537 awarded to the Ohio County Sheriff's Department.
"This is going into the budget, and it will cover my gas bill for next year," Burgoyne said.
"Our gas bill is about $5,000 a month. That means the cruisers will cruise for the next12 months on someone's drug money."
"We sometimes use televisions, audio equipment and PowerPoint Presentations in the courtroom," Smith said. "It's very effective in court to use visual images. I think its nice to be able to use money forfeited from drug-related activity to help in the prosecution of drug trafficking and related crimes."
The funding will be distributed to the following agencies.
The Ohio County Sheriff's Department Â $62,537
The Ohio County Prosecutor's Office Â $11,581
The Wheeling Police Department Â$20,845
The Marshall County Sheriff's Department Â $10,422
The Ohio Valley Drug Task Force Â $10,422.