From WAVY in Virginia:
The Middlesex County sheriff is being investigated by police for allegedly using county and state funds for himself.
Search warrants were filed in Chesapeake court this week for a BB&T account and a Wachovia account, one belonging to the Sheriff Guy Abbott’s forfeiture account, the other to what appears to be his personal account.
“I would hate to think that people that are suppose to protect us would go ahead and do something like that,” said Middlesex County resident Dee Bookins.
Investigators searched bank statements, signature cards, deposit slips and checks dating back 10 years. They found evidence to support allegations of embezzlement and misuse of county and state funds.
Those funds were allegedly allocated for personal use by county officials, namely Abbott.
Evidence included receipts from the Middlesex County sheriff’s office asset forfeiture account and reports Abbott sent to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.
There were also 21 itemized Mastercard statements between 2000 and 2002.
Virginia’s forfeiture laws are pretty loose. The Institute for Justice’s recently published 50-state report on forfeiture laws awards Virginia a D- and notes that Virginia lets 100% of forfeiture proceeds directly go to law enforcement; over most of the last 15 years this has sent an average of $7.2 million to law enforcement each year. Most of this money, if not all, has negligible civilian oversight, and it is often too easy to hide money in different funds, property, and other tangible assets that directly benefit individual law enforcement officers. It’s nice when you get to use the company car; it’s sweet when your work gives you under-the-table cash bonuses, SUVs, and unregulated expense accounts if you can keep making seizures of property from people who are too poor or politically weak to defend themselves in court.
Cross-posted at Americans for Forfeiture Reform.