Not much good comes from illegal and illicit drug activity, but one state law does authorize local law enforcement to put seized cash to good use.
Once local law enforcement seizes illegal drug money, Sampson County sheriff Jimmy Thornton says his department is authorized to present the seized cash to local school boards. In the last two years, Thornton has presented more than $55,000 to Sampson County and Clinton City schools.
According to the sheriff’s department, approximately $28,000 was seized as evidence in multiple drug cases over the last year. After conviction and exhausting of all court appeals, the money becomes eligible to turn over to local school districts. That money is divided between both school systems. This year, Thornton presented Clinton City Schools interim superintendent Dr. Stewart Hobbs with a check for $7,604.30, and plans to present Sampson County School superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy with a check for $20,929.67 at its next meeting.
“It is a privilege to present seized cash to local school boards,” Thornton stated about the presentation. “Under state law, the sheriff is allowed to transfer unclaimed cash and cash from illegal and illicit activities such as drug sales, when we are able to seize it.”
Both school systems utilize the money to purchase needed materials for the schools and its students.
“We are appreciative of Sheriff Thornton and the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department for keeping our county safe,” Hobbs said. “The funds recently received as part of the fines and forfeitures collected and provided to our school system will be utilized to benefit our students.”
Although much of the money seized was the product of illegal drug sales, Thornton said he does his best to make sure the money is put to good use.
“Children are the ones who ultimately suffer in the drug trade,” Thornton said. “Hopefully this ill gotten fruit of crime can be of benefit to the children in our school systems, after all the are our greatest resource. I hope to continue to be able to turn over seized cash down the road, as cases are tried and appeals are exhausted.”
Thornton, who originally ran for office on the platform of fighting drug activity, has continued to express his desire to continue the fight and get drugs off the streets and out of the hands of children.
”I can think of no better avenue for its use than to help educate our children,” Thornton stated about the seized money. “I hope this money will help fill in some of the gaps in needed areas and provides some benefit to our children.”
Last year Sampson County Schools received $21,354 from seized money collected by the department and Clinton City Schools was presented with a check for $7,734.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.