Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drugs and Money and Muncie

The Muncie Star Press has been keeping the light on the mess created by the Muncie Drug Task Force and Delaware County's forfeiture policy. Frankly, this problem is not on of Democrat versus Republican (although it sure looks like the Republican Mayor wants the Democratic Prosecuting Attorney's head), but one about money and its corrupting influence. I have said for years that significant reform of our drug policy will never occur because there is too much money at stake on both sides of our War on Drugs. Nor will there ever be success in this so-called War because it is no one's interest for success.

"Dailey plans to conduct more hearings to dispose of forfeiture cases being reviewed by his staff to ensure future seized property and cash goes to local government general funds or common school funds, according to state law. The DTF has been using seized assets to run its operation, pay other law enforcement costs, including a fitness gym at city hall.

The latest round of cases, totaling $58,737 worth of cash and other property, were handled by then-deputy prosecutors McKinney and Louis Denney under the director of former Prosecutor Richard Reed more than a decade ago.

A review of those cases found only a handful where court orders were entered to dispose of the property and cash, with most left open after criminal cases on defendants were disposed. Some seizures amounted to only pocket change of under $100 taken from drug suspects by DTF officers, while others involved taking large amounts of personal property, including jewelry, cars, electronics and guns."


Denney said he did not remember why so many cases never had court orders disbursing the money without reviewing them.

"I thought we got orders on most of them," he said.

The procedure was established to get extra pay for deputy prosecutors handling forfeiture work, Denney said.

"It was a way to get paid," said Denney.

However, he said criminal cases involving defendants involved in civil forfeitures were handled by Reed, and not the deputies involved in the forfeitures.

"There was a wall there," said Denney, explaining plea agreements were not based on how much a defendant forfeited in property and cash.

Another judge wants answers from DTF :

"The Muncie-Delaware County Drug Task Force, through its attorney, county Prosecutor Mark McKinney, disposed of money and property from a high-profile drug dealer last year without a court order.

The use of a confidential agreement that distributed over $50,000 in cash seized during the arrest of suspected drug dealer Adrian Kirtz, and his acquaintance, Lacie Williams, was done after Delaware Circuit Court 4 Judge John Feick ordered the assets frozen and not distributed.

Feick assumed that order was still in place until informed of the confidential agreement by Delaware Circuit Court 2 Judge Richard Dailey, who is investigating whether the prosecutor committed fraud in handling forfeiture cases.

'That causes me concern,' said Feick, about the DTF distributing funds and property when the court ordered them frozen.

On Friday, Feick ordered McKinney's office to file a status report on the forfeiture case within 10 days.

The confidential settlement agreement between the DTF, Kirtz and Williams gave the DTF $35,774 in cash, a 2003 GMC Denali, a 1993 Kawasaki motorcycle and other personal property from the defendants' residence."

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