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Order of Forfeiture Transfers $8,961 to Sheriff’s Office

By Staff | Sep 2, 2010

AN ORDER OF FORFEITURE, signed by District Court Judge Nancy Whittenburg on Aug. 25, transferred cash discovered during a search warrant to the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, following the conviction of a county drug dealer. The $8,961 in cash is displayed along with the Order of Forfeiture. Pictured (from left) are Deputy Sheriff Lynn Schultes, Deputy Eric Ring, County Attorney Peter C. Hart, Sheriff Dennis Goeders, and Chief Deputy Todd Suhr. Other assisting officers not pictured include Deputy John King and Reserve Deputy Dennis Paulson.– submitted photo

When a Palo Alto County drug dealer was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, he was forced to leave behind his ill-gotten gains, and those gains have now become the property of the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office.

On Jan. 6, Judge Charles K. Borth agreed there was sufficient proof from Palo Alto County Deputy Sheriff Eric Ring to issue a search warrant for a Graettinger residence.

“The warrant satisfied the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protecting against unreasonable search and seizures,” explained Palo Alto County Attorney Peter C. Hart. “With the authority of the warrant, Palo Alto County Deputy Sheriffs Eric Ring, Lynn Schultes, John King, and Reserve Deputy Dennis Paulson proceeded to enter the front door at 307 North Cedar Street in Graettinger.”

Once inside, the officers discovered over 10 gram of methamphetamine with numerous small stashes of $100’s, $50’s, $10’s, and $1’s—all totaling $8,961 in cash.

On Apr. 16, Gary Dean Smith was sentenced to serve 10 years for his conviction of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver. On Aug. 25, District Court Judge Nancy Whittenburg of Spencer ordered the 10 grams of methamphetamine to be destroyed by the Palo Alto County Deputies. Judge Whittenburg also transferred title of the $8,961 in cash to the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office with a one-tenth portion set aside for the Department of Justice.

“These funds are now specifically earmarked for continued undercover drug enforcement efforts,” Hart said.

According to Hart, Iowa Civil Forfeiture statute allows law enforcement to seize and then to take title to any financial profits traceable to ongoing criminal activities. Forfeiture statutes are another effective weapon in the county attorney’s arsenal to combat ongoing criminal behavior in the county.

“Once a county attorney files the forfeiture action and the Court grants permission, then possession of the illegal drugs and title to the cash transfers to the local law enforcement agencies that did the heavy lifting in the criminal investigation and resulting arrests,” said Hart.

Hart expressed his gratitude to all of the deputies involved in this effort for their professionalism and their years of experience.

Hart said, “In rural Iowa areas like Palo Alto County, where prosecution and law enforcement resources are at a premium, it is only with joint effort and mutual trust between prosecutors and the officers that such an incredible success could be accomplished. It is an honor and a humbling experience to be part of such a dedicated and efficient law enforcement team.”