The Justice Department this week distributed more than $3.4 million to local and state law enforcement agencies under its equitable sharing program, said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach.
The money came from seizures and forfeitures in three federal cases --a heroin trafficking organization led by Christopher Ugochukwu, the money laundering conviction of Paul Monea and a 2010 traffic stop in Twinsburg that resulted in a seizure of $677,660.
Under the equitable sharing formula, the Justice Department keeps 20 percent of the seized assets. The remaining money is divided among other participating agencies based on hours worked on the case.
The U.S. Marshal administers the funds. More than $2 million came from the Ugochukwu case. Most of that came from cash that was forfeited.
Additionally, property was seized in Solon, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. Twelve vehicles were also seized. Ugochukwu is currently serving a 26-year prison sentence for leading an organization that brought heroin from Nigeria, Mexico and Colombia and sold it throughout Greater Cleveland.
Authorities seized more than 20 kilograms of heroin in 2010, believed to be the largest heroin seizure in Ohio history.
Twenty-three people were convicted of crimes for their roles in the operation. The Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force, which led the Ugochukwu investigation, received more than $1.7 million.
The NOLETF is jointly led by the FBI and Cleveland police and focused on large-scale drug trafficking investigations. That $1.7 million will be divided among the cities and agencies whose departments participated in the Ugochukwu investigation, including Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Shaker Heights, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, University Heights and the Lake County Narcotics Agency.
The FBI and Cleveland, University Heights and Parma police departments will also receive forfeited vehicles. More than $1.7 million came from the conviction of Paul Monea, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for conspiracy and money laundering.
Monea tried to sell the 43-carat "Golden Eye" diamond to an undercover FBI agent posing as a broker for a South American drug cartel. The diamond was seized and auctioned following Monea's conviction, as was $100,000.
More than $1.2 million from the Monea case will go to local and state police. The distribution of assets is as follows:
- Canton Police Department, $749,525
- Alliance Police Department, $282,429
- Ohio Adult Parole Authority, $46,460
- Stark County Sheriff's Office, $37,092
- Internal Revenue Service, $36,643
- Shaker Heights Police Department, $36,643
- Ohio National Counterdrug Task Force, $19,496
- Jackson Township Police Department, $12,289
- Massillon Police Department, $8,990
- Perry Township Police Department, $3,853
Finally, Khalilah Crumpler had an outstanding warrant in Mayfield Heights when she was pulled over on a traffic stop in Twinsburg in 2010. She was taken into custody and a search of her car revealed $677,660 -- some of which was wrapped in dryer sheets, which is often used to mask the smell of drugs.
A drug detection dog then alerted positively for the odor or illegal narcotics. That currency was forfeited because it constituted proceeds from drug trafficking activities and/or was used or intended to be used to facilitate drug trafficking.
"This money will provide badly needed resources to police departments throughout Northeast Ohio. Departments and agencies in Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark and Lake County will all get money, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars," Dettelbach said.
"The community gets a double benefit when we take ill-gotten money from criminals and drug dealers and use it to support local police and law enforcement."