Georgia Sheriff Suspended From Federal Program After Using Funds To Buy Hellcat Muscle Car

downloadMany civil libertarians long objected to the reliance on local policy on money and property seized in drug stops and raids.  I have previously written about drivers being stripped of any cash that they cannot clearly account for in highway stops and the windfall such seizures represent for some departments. The federal government has been repeatedly criticized for its seizures, which are shared with local departments.  Now this program is at the heart of a controversy in Gwinnett County where Sheriff Butch Conway used money from the federal program to purchase a Hellcat muscle car for use as his official car.  However, the story gets much, much worse in my view after Conway’s department cited the other use of the car beyond transported Conway in Knight Rider fashion.

Fox 5 reported that the Justice Department wants Conway to give back $69,258 that he used to buy the 707 hp Dodge Charger Hellcat. The ramped up black Hellcat can hit a top speed of 204 mph . . . and make a middle aged sheriff look incredibly cool.

The problem is that it was supposed to be used as an “undercover/covert operations” vehicle, not as the sheriff’s sweet ride.

The department however said that, in addition to carting around the sheriff, it would also use the car to promote a “Beat the Heat” community outreach program.  The department encourages citizens to drag race against police officers on drag strips. This is meant to teach the dangers of street racing and distracted driving.

Really?  You actually hold regular drag races to teach the dangers of drag races. I get that this is done on a track but hyping up the fun of racing cops would seem awfully bad idea. Those kids are not likely to venture out to a rented track to continue their love for drag racing.

For now, the county has been cut off from the DOJ’s seized asset reallocation program.

Of course, Conway could always apply for a position with the Dubai police force where the Hellcat would be viewed as a tad staid.

68 thoughts on “Georgia Sheriff Suspended From Federal Program After Using Funds To Buy Hellcat Muscle Car”



    Here’s a Fox New Story from 7/18/17:

    “Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that the Justice Department will make it easier for local law enforcement to seize cash and property from crime suspects and reap the proceeds.

    The practice has been criticized because it allows law enforcement to take possessions — such as cars and money — without indictments or evidence a crime has been committed.

    Sessions said a shift will be announced this week that will increase the use of asset forfeiture, especially for drug suspects.

    “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime,” Sessions told local prosecutors in Minnesota.

    A change would likely represent another reversal by Sessions of Obama-era Justice Department policies. His Democratic predecessor Eric Holder had tightened control of the department’s asset forfeiture operations amid concerns that property could be seized without judicial oversight and without the owner ever being charged with a crime.

    Holder namely restricted the ability of the federal government to take possession of, or adopt, assets seized by local authorities, who could then share in the proceeds with their federal counterparts. Civil liberties groups and some members of Congress praised the move as a step toward reform because that practice made it easier for local authorities to circumvent state laws that were sometimes stricter than the federal ones governing seizures.

    Sessions on Monday said such practice — known as adoptive forfeiture — is “appropriate, as is sharing with our partners.” The line drew a round of applause from the hundreds of county attorneys and law enforcement officials inside a Minneapolis convention center”.

    Edited from: “Sessions Signals More Police Property Seizures Coming”

    FOX NEWS, 7/18/17



      The Justice Department announced their plans to reinstate the use of asset forfeiture, especially for drug suspects — making it easier for local law enforcement to seize cash and property from crime suspects and reap the proceeds.

      The practice has been criticized because it allows law enforcement to take possessions — such as cars and money — without indictments or evidence a crime has been committed.

      “Civil asset forfeiture is a key tool that helps law enforcement help defund organized crime, prevents new crime from committed and weakens the criminals and cartels,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Wednesday announcing the revived DOJ policy.

      Sessions said these seizures help weaken criminal organizations by taking away their funding, returning property back to victims of crime, as well as give funds back to law enforcement officials by allocating the assets toward new vehicles, vests and police training.

      “Funds being used to take lives are now being used to save lives,” said Sessions.

      CBS News’ Paula Reid reports that 24 states have passed laws limiting the practice, but local law enforcement can get around those restrictions by giving seized assets to the federal government instead of returning them to their owners. This practice is called “adoption” and it’s been used to seize almost $1 billion in assets over the last decade.

      In an off-camera briefing on Wednesday with reporters, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the forfeiture practice as a way to empower law enforcement. This new policy allows local police to seize property even from people not charged with a crime. About 20 states have reformed the practice and said that assets can only be seized with an indictment or conviction.

      Reid reports that when asked why the DOJ would override the will of over 20 states that do not want their citizens subject to this, Rosenstein repeatedly claimed that this practice will help solve the opioid crisis.

      Edited from: “Sessions Reinstates Asset Forfeitures Policy At Justice Department”

      CBS NEWS: 7/19/17



      2. Peter,…
        – On a somewhat related issue, there are apt to be all kinds of “side effects” from the “opiod crisis bandwagon”.
        This is likely to prompt gun-shy doctors and hospitals to adopt a “just say no” policy for patients in excruciating pain with legitimate need for narcotic pain killers.
        Should be an “interesting experience” for millions of patients in the coming years.
        A bullet to bite down on, perhaps following a shot of rum, might be the “new ” pain management standard for the foreseeable future,

        1. If we’re going to seize assets from opioid distributers let’s start with the makers of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma.

          But seriously, Sessions was just looking for a pretense to justify reinstating Asset Forfeitures. The truth is that Asset Forfeitures encourage cops to be nothing more than highway robbers. And more often than not suspicion of marijuana possession is used as an excuse to bring in canines for a total search of the auto. One joint might be enough to get car and cash seized.

          The Obama administration was well-aware of these abuses. That’s why Eric Holder was phasing out forfeitures But the Trump administration is fine with cops functioning as thieves. Anything regressive appeals to Republicans.

          1. you’re full of crap. lots of republicans are against asset forfeiture abuse. Institutes for Justice is probably staffed by 90% voting Republicans.

            Sessions is one guy. Trump is not a big pot-crime fighter in the slightest bit. Roger Stone the Democrats hate the supposed Guccifer connection is an ardent legalizer.

          2. I would bet actually that Democrats probably rake in more from asset forfeiture than Republicans, if we are talking about Democrat elected sheriffs and big city law enforcement appointees. Just a hypothesis but bear with me:

            urban areas have larger concentrations of black and other minority voters
            major metro urban areas are predominantly if not overwhelmingly democrat voting blocks
            blacks are over-represented as victims of asset forfeiture abuse
            ergo, the Democrat law enforcement capos of the major metros are the primary beneficiaries of asset forfeiture abuse against black victim-suspects

            they can put that on Sessions or they could put it on all the Democrat police chiefs and sheriffs


          3. Peter,..
            The K-9 they brought in (when I was pulled over for the second time within 25 miles of entering Idaho…failure to signal for 5 FULL seconds before changing lanes) “alerted” on my my car.
            I think think they are trained to recognize license plates, and “alert” on vehicles with plates from states with legalized marijuana.
            They went through my car….I was packed for an extended stay and still had nearly 1,000 miles left to drive….there was nothing illegal in there for them to find.
            I was afraid that they’d just remove everything and dump it on the side of the rode for me to repack, but they were pretty good about putting everything back.
            I told the Trooper that at 75 MPH and waiting for 5 full seconds, there would not have been any point in moving over for the vehichles entering the freeway….I’d be “in the mix” in their right lane after waiting 5 seconds at that speed.
            Anyway, I still had c. 250 miles to drive across Idaho, and I was looking over my shoulder the whole time to see if they’d figure out a reason to stop me for a third time.
            I don’t mind checkpoints, at CA. AG check stations, on highways that pass through military installations, at Hoover Dam, etc.
            If Idaho and a few other states feel that threatened by Reefer Madness invading their state, they should just be upfront about it and establish checkpoints.
            I don’t like standing on the shoulder of a 75 MPH freeway playing a game of 20 questions while traffic is whizzing by, so the checkpoints are a lot safer as well.

              1. Peter,…
                The trip I make, fairly routinely, was c. 1175 via the shortest route across Idaho.
                It’s now just at 1300 miles due to completely bypassing Idaho.
                And given what I’ve said and posted about Idaho over the past few years, they’d probably lock me up and throw away the key😦, assuming that they didn’t shoot me on sight.
                I ‘ve driven through a lot of states over the years, seen a few, very few, speedtraps, but I’d never experienced anything like that.

                1. Peter,…
                  I was fairly lucky in that I was not held up for hours.
                  That night ( after crossing over into Nevada) I got on my laptop and learned that the lawsuit ROSEEN V. IDAHO had been filed just weeks before my experience.
                  Before checking out the next morning and hitting the road again, I called Mr, Roseen’s attorney to let him know that Idaho’s policy of license plate profiling had evidently not changed.
                  The Trooper took out after Mr. Roseen about 30-45 seconds after he entered Idaho.
                  He followed him to, ironically, a “Welcome to Idaho” rest stop about a mile down the rode.
                  He was held up for hours. They finally told him he was free to leave, but that they still had not completed searching his vehicle.
                  Out in the tulies in Idaho, that didn’t do him a heck of a lot of good.
                  His long drive between Seattle and Denver became “a lot longer” due to the aggravation and loss of time on the road.

        2. a see saw that has gone back and forth for decades. and a lot of people suffer in a lot of ways. people like peter would put it on Republicans, well, he would put everything on Republicans if he could. must be nice to always have a go to scapegoat in life.

          1. Kurtz, that article from THE ROOT compliments the two I posted. It was published only 3 weeks later. This sentence stands out:

            “It is a very lucrative source of income for law enforcement; in the 12 months before then-Attorney General Eric Holder shut down the program in 2015, local authorities took in $65 million, which they shared with the federal government.”

      1. Mr. Kurtz,…
        – I don’t know if this has changed, but there were a lot of complaints from Colorado drivers about getting “anbushed” with pretext traffic stops in both Nebraska and Kansas.
        Colorado was one of the first states to legalize recreational pot, and Nebraska and Kansas have, or least had, some of the strictest laws against pot.

        1. If pot was legalized across the country, cops in smaller sates would have no pretext for those highway robberies.

          A few years back The New Yorker ran a piece about a state highway that runs north from Houston. Said highway is widely used by major drug traffickers coming up from the border. But in one particular county just about anyone with out-of-state plates can get pulled over and searched. The abuses described in that article were absolutely shocking. Motorist carrying large amounts of cash were essentially fair game for robbery. No drugs were needed!

    2. then there is the old fashioned form of “asset forfeitures’ where the police just steal stuff because they think the victims won’t complain.

      as in Chicago cops stealing guns from citizens who never had them registered under the former Jane Byrne scheme that has now been declared unconstitutional;

      as in cops stealing weed and booze from kids;

      as in cops stealing money from sex workers or maybe just getting free services

      all of that stuff still happens even though to some extent no doubt sort of displaced by the energies invested in the modern “asset forfeiture regime”

  2. John Oliver lambasted the abuses of civil asset forfeiture in a segment of his show a few years ago.
    One of the purchases made with forfeited funds was a margarita machine.
    That video segment from Oliver’s c. 2014 show is probably on the internet.
    A little-known but important fact associated with civil asset forfeiture is the existence of the” Black Asphalt/ Desert Snow” program. Anyone interested in the c.a. forfeiture issue should look into that program.
    So far, the courts seemed to have turned a blind eye to these abuses. Some states, however, have reined in the carte blanche “highway robbery” potential of asset forfeiture.

  3. Pretty impressive eyebrows, though, you must admit. Probably not fake like Trudeau’s, either.

    1. FFS, on the weighty topic of eyebrows: “Probably not fake like Trudeau’s, either.”

      “Although this video clip appears to be genuine, it does not show Justin Trudeau’s eyebrows falling off his face.

      “This video was taken during a joint news conference with Trudeau and the French president Emmanuel Macron ahead of the G7 summit. The full conference can be viewed here, and the relevant portion (at around the one-minute mark) can be seen below:

      “Trudea’s eyebrows may look strange in this video, but that phenomenon appears to be the result of lighting, not follicular fakery.”

      1. “follicular fakery”. I am so using that if I ever get the opportunity.

      2. “Appears to be genuine” “appears to be the result of lighting”. Snopes sounds pretty sure of themselves /sarc.

    1. Good point. Someone should inform Jeff Sessions the nation’s foremost cheerleader for asset forfeiture.

      1. wildbill99 – our former sheriff bought a tank with a ram to break into drug houses with forfeiture monies. Probably saved lives. Not as much fun as the street rod though. 😉

      2. sessions is worthless. absent on the Russia affray, which leftists like, active against marijuana, which only fools are exercised over anymore, and really active on promoting asset forfeiture. a real disappointment to everyone, sadly


    Hey, remember when the GOP didn’t like welfare for corporations or small businesses?? Remember when the GOP thought this was socialism??

    At least when Obama did it in the first weeks of his term, it had nothing to do with his economic policies [the collapse came at the end of Bush’s second term]. This time, it’s entirely Trump’s fault for his feckless tariffs. He’s worried about the midterms and is buying votes.

    1. Suze, you realize of course that what you just posted has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the thread? You just couldn’t wait to post your link.
      TDS is a sad disease.

      1. Uh, yeah, but sometimes it’s fun to be provocative and call out GOP and Trump cult hypocrisy. And I’m a woman so I don’t have TDS.

        1. suze – that’s like saying “I’m a woman, so I can’t have a vagina.” Whoopi Goldberg proved you wrong on that one. 😉 At least on the TDS.

          1. It’s a medical term for a condition that only affects men. So I don’t have it.

            Of course the real issue is Trump’s complete incompetence, in this case his economic illiteracy and incompetence.

  5. About the drag racing, I’m reminded of the Sheriff in Aspen, Colo who issued a public service ad ca. 1978 suggesting people bring their dope to the sheriff’s office to be tested (no questions asked) if they wanted to be sure it didn’t contain paraquat.

  6. It would be unlikely that any real cop would choose this vehicle for use undercover.
    Maybe this guy is getting near retirement and thought he’d pull a buyback for the vehicle for pennies on the dollar.

    1. If White Pages speaks the truth, he’s 66. Medicare eligible, shortly due for full Social Security (if not already), and 11 years past the median retirement age for police officers.

    2. The Italian police bought two Ferraris because their little cars could not catch high-speed cars in Italy. One was spotted at each end of Italy so they could catch the speeder coming and going.

  7. The problem can be addressed by placing the proceeds from fines, forfeitures, vice excises, and Pigou levies in a fund. Could be a municipal, county, state, or federal fund depending on the recipient government. At the end of the fiscal year the fund is emptied by sending out a small rebate check to every household paying direct taxes in the jurisdiction in question (whether they be property or income taxes). Alternatively, the contents of the fund could be entered as a credit on tax bills, and reduce remittances accordingly. You use these measures to change relative prices and economic incentives, not for revenue.

    Proper sources of revenue: filing fees (to finance courts, administrative tribunals, and registries), tolls and fares (to finance public enterprises which produce services one might purchase on the open market), excises substituting for tolls and fares (e.g. motor fuel taxes, which might go to a dedicated fund for road maintenance); taxes on gifts, bequests, and corporate equity (which would be small sources of revenue); and taxes on property, sales, value-added, income (which would be major sources). Make your taxes as simple and uniform as possible so as not to favor one economic sector over another.

    1. well, thanks for clearing that up. Please, go forth and implement your grand solution.

      and let me know what a “paul bot” is

    1. Paul. You’re so funny. I hope your wife perhaps read this blog so she can get an idea for your Chritmas gift!

  8. another cancerous byproduct of the failed “war on drugs”
    dont fire Sessions because he is a doddering old fool that has recused himself from the affray,
    fire him because he has restarted this nonsense!

    1. another cancerous byproduct of the failed “war on drugs”

      Paul-bots just keep re-running the tape. We haven’t eliminated crime, ergo penal codes and police are failures.

      1. what’s a paul bot?

        don’t put words in my mouth spastic.

        you don’t know how these programs operate, obviously, even though you just read about one

  9. end the stupid SPOILS program where local cops are encouraged by the feds to go out and make bogus seizures on phony allegations. a lot of these don’t even end in arrest let alone prosecution. total BS

    1. it’s not necessarily an illegitimate tool of law enforcement, in each instance, but overall it is being very much abused.

      many diverse state legislatures are reforming the state laws and the federal programs are way behind

  10. Along with these privileges should come increased responsibilities and severe punishment for the police officers that abuse their authority. If deterrence can land an average person in jail for a like crime, theft then deterrence should be several times more severe for a police officer or any official in the judicial system. Making the scum bag reimburse the money spent on the car equals making an armed robber give back the money just stolen and then walk free.

  11. Civil asset forfeiture has long been abused, and there is no due process. In some areas it’s become a shakedown.

    Up until the 1800s, England would allow its navy to “make a prize” of enemy ships. If a captain or admiral defeated an enemy ship, and did not sink her, they owned the ship and cargo, the proceeds of which was distributed to the crew as “prize money.” Serving under a prodigious captain could significantly supplement the crew’s wages, some of them getting set up quite nicely for retirement.

    In this case, the general population is getting swept up, as well.

  12. Much of these tainted funds come from drug-associated busts. My favorite video displaying the worst result of drug laws: local and state police park their cars on the middle section between the two sides of a freeway which is the major artery for drug transport from the S (gulf drug import area) to the NE. Both police cartels gain portions of their operating budgets via federal confiscation laws requiring only arrest, not a conviction (it’s for the chill’un, don’t ya know?)

    Trucks using the freeway are the proverbial “fish in a barrel.” The police cartels pick a suspicious truck, follow it till the driver commits the most innocuous offense, stop the truck, and have already mentally spent the forthcoming “asset forfeiture” funds while they exit their armored vehicle.

    How bad is their blood thirst for funds? Criminal, that’s how bad. At least one time the two “LAW ENFORCMENT” cartels had a shoot out between each other in vain attempt to settle their disagreement as to who had dibs on a particular truck.

  13. A Georgia sheriff named “Butch.” Not that that would bring to mind any stereotypes, lol.

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