By on July 20, 2018

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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25 Comments on “Justice Department Wants Refund from Sheriff Who Bought a Dodge Charger Hellcat...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    As soon as I read the headline, I assumed this would involve Georgia.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    “when he participates in field operations, covert and otherwise”

    Covert? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA right. Enough of the black Chargers I see on the road are cop cars that I assume each one is a cop car until I get close enough to tell otherwise. What is there some kind of big underworld Fast and Furious scene going on in Gwinnett County with Sheriff Butch as a mole, right there under their noses? This must be the place where everyone is reaching for the top, wanting to shine, but once they step across that line then Butch is coming after them no matter where they hide. (Words borrowed from Bob Seger.)

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      This one is perfect for those covert operations since most black Chargers are indeed police cars. You assume of course that it is a Police car which make you look closer and see that this is a Hellcat and thus there is no way it could be a cop car since no dept would approve of purchasing a Hellcat.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      IIRC, this was the back story of the original FnF movie. “You owe me a 10 second car!”

      Indeed.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Sheriff Branford: “The fact that you’re a sheriff is not germane to the situation”
    Sheriff Justice: “The goddamn Germans got nothin’ to do with it!”

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    92 million dollar budget and you used Fed funds? Why? Well, y’all should keep the car and use campaign funds to reimburse Mr. Trump.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Dumb feds.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “You in a heap o’ trouble, boy.”

  • avatar
    rpol35

    1970 all over again except Buford T. Justice or whatever his name is is actually doing the driving.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    So the car was bought with stolen money. The money was stolen from the citizens of Georgia. All the feds have to do is suspect you of being a criminal. Your car, money and house is seized. Even if the charges are dropped you do not get your property back. The thieves, I mean the cops, keep it and give it to other crooked cops to spend how they wish. Even buying a car like this. America, being made safe for the thieves, I mean cops, one seizure at a time.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Everything about this is infuriating:

    – Stop wasting tax dollars on drag racing. Find illegal drag races, seize cars, and publicly destroy them. Make the owners of the cars watch, and or actually push the button. It’s not hard to find the races, I’ve even done it by accident before.

    – There should not be a financial incentive to enforce the law. Want to seize assets? Great. The money goes to help improve job opportunities in poor communities. Let’s stop crime by making people too busy/tired/depressed by the rat race to have the initiative to be criminals.

    – This should be considered defrauding the federal government, and as such, he should be subject to the Federal False Claims Act, which specifies 3x damages. Let him either sign a consent order, or face prosecution and figure out how to give him some jail time.

  • avatar
    stuki

    As long as there is financial incentive to harass someone, you’ll get harassment motivated by financial gain. Even if the incentive is only paid out 1 time out of 20, the ones standing to gain will still bias their “law enforcement” towards the “crimes” that pay the best for them, rather than the ones their community cares the most about.

    Criminals, after having been “proven” such in a court of law; first properly indicted, then properly tried by a properly representative jury of peers, should be punished in a way that costs the community money. The community is ostensibly receiving a benefit from discouraging crime. Hence should be willing to pay for it. Enforcing make-believe, drummed up “crimes”, would then be properly discouraged.

  • avatar
    dangit56

    It takes a special (older) genius to quote The Firesign Theatre.
    Obviously, you’re “ruthless”!

    No disrespect to the many honest LEOs, but the quoted statement is more true than ever, especially if you’re of any minority community.
    Our local 137 fiefdoms (I meant to say “municipalities”) in Allegheny County, most hire ONLY part-time officers. A recent incident involved an officer shooting in which the officer involved was in the $11-13/hour range.
    How can we expect the judgement and professionalism at that level?
    Even atheists pray given the current State of the Nation.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      “quoted statement is more true than ever, especially if you’re of any minority community”

      Simply not true. That might be what the media leads you to believe, but the hard facts show police shoot more white males than they do black males. It’s skewed per capita, but that’s more of a class / crime thing than a race thing.

      The real problem is that racism sells newspapers (metaphor).

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        But with some major caveats, or math can be hard; https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/do-police-kill-more-whites-than-black-people/ The numbers are skewed because there are more white people than black people (duh). I think you wanted to say “socioeconomic” instead of ” It’s skewed per capita, but that’s more of a class / crime thing than a race thing.” Double duh.

        • 0 avatar
          dangit56

          Thanks for the assist, it is a per capita majority. T

          Citing any stats to support any logical position can be very biased/rascist/fascist depending on who supplied the dataset.

          Like polling, the key details are in the exact nuances of phrasing.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          el scotto, We said the same thing, but with different verbiage. I guess I also appreciate the assist.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    Anybody with the brain of an amoeba should agree that this forfeiture bulls**t is a pure moneymaker for police. They have divisions in Houston, Phoenix, etc. who patrol the interstates just looking for what they deem as a “profile” vehicle, which changes all the time and the cartels know it.

    I used to design recording studios, and a guy who worked for me said I needed to come to Laredo and go down and visit some of the studios just across the border, so what the heck. There is a bunch of music that never gets past Houston, and there’s like 15-20 studios within 10 miles of the border, it really changed my mindset, I felt extremely comfortable.

    So we went to Houston because one of the known producers in town wanted a digital recorder. We go visit, I’d had the machine shipped down from my company for him to test, so we meet at his studio, he says he wants it, so I need payment. Ok, so one of his staff produced a handgun and we got paid $20k in $20 bills, all good, but we both figured we would get jacked and they would take the money back. We went to the best hotel in Houston so we could put the money in our room safes, turned out we miscounted and he still owed us $1k. It was FedExed the next day, so after that, I got rid of as many stereotypes as I could, and I invite everyone to do the same!

    There is way too much darn stuff confiscated by The Man before the wheels of justice have completed turning. I live in TN and all of the meth labs needed to go away, but there goes the trailer, the pickup, freaking everything. So when they get out, what in the hell are they going to do to make any money?

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble, but if the sheriff got the money from people who were convicted, go out and impress some kids with a burnout!


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