Sunday, November 23, 2014

County sheriff: Unfiled reports could cost $35K share of seized drug money

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 6/9/2014

Previous leadership at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office might have cost the department $35,000, which would have been used to boost the county budget.

The county was awarded 10 percent of a $350,000 seizure as part of a federal investigation, Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said. The department helped with the investigation, but has yet to be awarded the 10 percent because the county was removed from a federal equitable sharing program, Richards said. The issue came to light during the county budget study session Monday, which will resume 8:30 a.m. today at the County Annex Building, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa.

Previous leadership at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office might have cost the department $35,000, which would have been used to boost the county budget.

The county was awarded 10 percent of a $350,000 seizure as part of a federal investigation, Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said. The department helped with the investigation, but has yet to be awarded the 10 percent because the county was removed from a federal equitable sharing program, Richards said. The issue came to light during the county budget study session Monday, which will resume 8:30 a.m. today at the County Annex Building, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa.

The department was removed from the program about two years ago, before he was appointed sheriff, Richards said, because the department had stopped filling out paper work for the program.

“You have to be a part of the program. We used to be part of the program but, for some reason, the sheriff’s office didn’t file reports any more and was going to stop participating in the program,” Richards said. “That didn’t happen with me. Since we’ve found out about it, we’re getting the reports done so we can get back current to be eligible to receive the money through equitable sharing.”

Richards was appointed sheriff in April 2013 after then-Sheriff Jeff Curry resigned amid allegations of criminal wrongdoing. This summer’s round of budget talks are Richards’ second as sheriff.

The reports that went unfiled the past two years are intended to provide proof to the sharing program that the money will and has been spent for its intended purpose, Richards said. He said the department is working toward satisfying the program’s requirements. He said there is a time limit from the date of the event, and the county is still within the time limit.

“We’re still within that window and we’re working with the [U.S.] Department of Justice so we can get everything done,” Richards said.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners reviewed requested budgets from departments Monday including the sheriff’s office, the county attorney, and the health department, among others. Tuesday the board will review the budget requests of the county clerk and county administrator.

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