Drug-case seizures net more than $300,000 for narcotics task force

Money to pay for vehicles, equipment

February 26, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS |

HAGERSTOWN — More than $300,000 seized by the Washington County’s Narcotics Task Force in 2011 will be used to buy two replacement vehicles for the task force, electronic fingerprinting equipment and other items, according to the county sheriff.

Most of that money — about $280,000 — was seized in August in a drug raid at a house on Sherman Avenue in Hagerstown, Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said earlier this month.

Subsequent seizures in other cases brought to $301,857.77, the year’s total forfeited to the narcotics task force through legal proceedings, Mullendore said.

The five-member Washington County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 14 to allow the task force to transfer the money from a holding account to an expenditure account.

Under a memorandum of understanding governing the narcotics task force, such transfers must be approved by the commissioners if they exceed $25,000, Mullendore said.

The narcotics task force includes members of the sheriff’s office and the Hagerstown Police Department. It is responsible for drug-related investigations, arrests and prosecution.

A governing board made up of the sheriff, Hagerstown police chief and county prosecutor sets the task force budget and decides how to spend the funds, Mullendore said.

Part of the money seized will be used to buy more than $40,000 worth of electronic fingerprint equipment, he said.

The sheriff’s office was recently notified that after April 15, the state would no longer accept nonelectronic fingerprints, he said.

Electronic fingerprinting equipment is already in use for people arrested in the county, but authorities are still using nonelectronic fingerprints for other purposes, such as applicants for law-enforcement positions and for civilians who deal with children, he said.

“If we didn’t have funds like this, we would have to go back to the commissioners and ask for funds” for the fingerprint equipment, Mullendore said.

Sheriff’s office officials also are considering buying a replacement mobile command vehicle, Mullendore said. If they decide to move forward with that purchase, some of the money seized by the task force could be combined with grant funds for that purchase, he said.

The Sherman Avenue drug raid came after a two-month investigation by the narcotics task force, officials have said. Investigators found 93 pounds of marijuana and $282,920 in the home, according to court documents.

Sean Clark Andrews, a resident of the 1116 Sherman Ave. house,  pleaded guilty in November to possession with intent to distribute a large amount of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of probation.

Another man, John Richard Titus, of 6404 Dam 4 Road, Williamsport, pleaded guilty later in November to possession of a large amount of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute Oxycodone and possession of a firearm in connection with a drug-trafficking crime.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and three years of probation.

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