(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County Prosecutor Michelle Woodward asked the commissioners to approve a contract with Terre Haute attorney Chris Gambill to do forfeiture cases for the county.
Asset forfeiture is a form of confiscation of assets by the state, pursuant to law. It typically applies to the alleged proceeds or instrumentalities of crime.
"Forfeiture cases become an ethical issue for local attorneys and are time consuming," Woodward told the commissioners."
Ultimately the decision will be mine on which with become forfeiture cases," He will then do the leg work and will take a percentage of the money grained."
Civil forfeiture, the act by which a municipality can seize money, vehicles or homes during an arrest, has always been a controversial weapon of law enforcement. The practice became more prevalent in the 1980s, when jurisdictions around the country began pursuing cases involving money in both civil and criminal court in an effort to fight organized crime and deprive criminals of their income.
"If someone is manufacturing meth at a home, that home can be seized," says County Attorney Dave Smith. "It is the same with any drug money recovered, or vehicle used to transport the drugs."
Once the cash, vehicles, home are confiscated they will then be auctioned off and the proceeds split three ways, between the prosecutor's office, the arresting agency and Gambill .
In other business:
*The Lawrence County commissioners Tuesday morning awarded Tri County Builders the contract to replace the more than 100 windows at the Lawrence County Courthouse and to renovate north entrance to the courthouse.
* The county has spent $178,701 to clear the county roadways from December until today. Of that $144,188 was the cost of materials; $23,513 was spent on overtime pay and approximately $18,000 for fuel. Highway Superintendent Dave Holmes says those figures do not reflect the additional $50,000 that will be spent to replenish materials.
Holmes also asked the commissioners permission to place stops signs at the entrance of Stone Crest Golf Course. Holmes and Sheriff Sam Craig will also be taking a look at the intersection at Twin Ponds. They hope to have the information to attorney Dave Smith by the next meeting so he can draft an ordinance for the placements of the stop signs.
* Sheriff Craig reported there were 163 inmates at the jail, of those 32 are female and 19 were Department of Correction holds. The jail capacity is 168.
"DOC was here this morning (Tuesday) and picked up 8 and they will be back today to pick up 8 more later today," Craig says. "The female count is becoming an issue and if this keeps up we will have to source them out to other facilities for housing which will cost the county money."
Commissioner Bill Spreen asked about the inmates. Craig says most of the inmates were facing meth or meth related charges and many were repeat offenders.
"They are facing A and B felonies and that can take up to 8 months or more until they are sentenced to the Department of Corrections," Craig says.
Craig added that many of the inmates were out on bond, when they were arrested again, thus revoking any bond.
"People need to start paying attention and discourage drug use," Spreen says. "This is going to break us one day, cost wise."
* The commissioners approved an Emergency Management grant.
"The extra grant funds is because we scored high on our state assessment," says Director Valarie Luchauer. "We are receiving $5,179.77."
The money will be spent on lap top computers and 5 digital radios.
Luchauer says she is also receiving calls about the shortage of propane fuel.
"The situation is bad," she added. "Because of the shortage resident can only get 100 gallons delivered and it is costing $5 to $6 a gallon. Residents are struggling to pay their bill or they can't get gas delivered."
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