Justice Department Wants Refund From Sheriff Who Bought a Dodge Charger Hellcat
The U.S. Department of Justice is demanding that Georgia Sheriff Butch Conway reimburse the government for his procurement of a 707-horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat, which it does not believe falls under the umbrella of reasonable purchases for a police department.
However, the DOJ isn’t questioning whether the department could make use of such a vehicle, as the federal government already approved its purchase. It just isn’t sure that Conway is being responsible with it, since it sounds like the Gwinnett Country Sheriff may be using it as his daily driver.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Conway’s office purchased the black-on-black Hellcat in April using $69,258 that had been previously approved by the DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section as part of its “equitable sharing program.” The program distributes assets seized during enforcement efforts to state and local agencies hoping to make purchases to “support their missions.”
It’s like a legal version of plundering, where the treasures taken were likely gained through illicit means, anyway.
However, there are concerns that the Sheriff hasn’t used those funds appropriately. The DOJ even issued a letter stating that the sheriff’s office is not eligible to request or receive any more asset forfeiture funds until the money is reimbursed — giving him until July 31st.
The Hellcat’s purchasing application claimed the vehicle would take part in Gwinnett’s Beat the Heat program, an initiative that uses drag races in controlled environments to inform drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and illegal street racing and encourage them to keep it on the strip. However, the Sheriff’s office said that, in addition to driving the car to and from work, Conway uses it “when he participates in field operations, covert and otherwise, with our deputies.”
Both are issues the DOJ takes umbrage with.
“Sheriff Conway maintains that this vehicle is an appropriate purchase, especially for an agency with a $92 million budget and the opportunity this vehicle provides in making our roadways safer,” said the office’s spokeswoman, Deputy Shannon Volkodav.
William Perry, the executive director of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, called the office’s explanations of the Hellcat’s use “bullfeathers.” He claimed all money from seized assets should be “treated the same way as a dollar coming out of a taxpayer’s pocket.”
“In my eyes,” Perry said, “the only way Butch Conway can save face is if he writes a personal check for that vehicle and apologizes to the taxpayers of Gwinnett County.”
[Image: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
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