The US Department of Justice is suspicious of an “extravagant” purchase made by a Georgia Sheriff. Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway bought a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat with approximately $70,000 in controversial asset forfeiture money.
Conway’s spokesperson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says the “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.”
Originally, Conway’s department bought the Charger Hellcat over a year ago. The purchase, back then, was approved by the DOJ’s equitable sharing program. This specific program redistributes seized assets to local and state law enforcement agencies.
Responding to criticism, Sheriff Conway claims that the Charger Hellcat can be used by a nonprofit called “Beat the Heat.” This organization simulates street racing to educates drivers about the dangers of racing and distracted driving.
The DOJ did not buy Sheriff Conway’s explanations. The agency set a deadline of July 31 for reimbursement. Until the reimbursement is made, the sheriff’s office an no longer request or receive asset forfeiture funds.
“The vehicle in question is a high-performance vehicle not typically purchased as part of a traditional fleet of law enforcement vehicles,” stated the DOJ.
Meanwhile, Gwinnett County officials want to resolve the issue. They claim to be adding review points in their process for equipment purchased with asset forfeiture money.