Drug dealer's truck taken in plea deal will be sold rather than repaired
Submitted by Howard B. Owens on January 17, 2012 - 10:42pm
A 2005 Chevy pickup truck taken by the Genesee County Sheriff's Office as part of the plea deal of a confessed meth dealer will be sold as surplus equipment.
The truck requires at least $2,500 in repairs making it unsuitable for the Sheriff's Office use.
The Public Service Committee today approved a resolution authorizing sale of the truck, but not without some questioning by committee Chairman Ray Cianfrini about why the truck was considered Sheriff's Office property in the first place. He thought it would be county property.
Undersheriff William Sheron explained that under state and federal drug seizure rules, property taken as the fruits of drug dealing must be used for law enforcement purposes. So placing the title of the vehicle under a law enforcement agency's name helps provide proof the vehicle isn't being used for other purposes.
Any proceeds from the sale of the truck will go to the county treasurer, but can only be spent on law enforcement purposes.
Both Le Roy Police and Batavia Police, as members of the Local Drug Enforcement Task Force, share in the proceeds of drug seizures, Sheron said, but typically, the funds are used for equipment or other task force costs.
While the money can't be spent on anything other than a law enforcement purpose, any expenditure must be approved by the Genesee County Legislature.
The truck seizure was part of a plea agreement for Matthew Zon, who entered a guilty plea July 26 to criminal possession of a controlled substance, 2nd. Zon was sentenced to three years in prison and forfeiture of his truck.
While local law enforcement has been involved in a few drug property seizures over the years, the largest may have been in about 1988, Sheron said, when a drug dealer's house in Batavia was taken. The eventual sale of the house netted local law enforcement about $150,000.
Sheron also noted that the forfeiture law has changed a lot over the years.
"They've definitely raised the bar," Sheron said. "It used to be if you found a roach in a car, the car could be taken. That's all changed now. It takes a case of trafficking."