Seizure funds released

Patrick Yost Featured, News

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office successfully claimed a 50 percent stake in more than $100,000 worth of items and cash seized by law enforcement officials during the execution of search warrant on the Hestertown Road residence of Clinton Thomas on May 31, 2018.

The search warrant, according to court documents produced a host of items allegedly associated with the sale of narcotics including guns, marijuana, THC edibles, LSD, mushrooms and more than $97,000 in cash and coins.

Because of the search warrant and the items discovered, Thomas, 37, was indicted last week by a Morgan County Grand Jury on one count possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, one count possession of greater than 20 ounces but less than 160 ounces of low THC oil, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count possession of drug related objects and one count possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Scott David Petersen, 37, Madison was also indicted in connection with the search warrant and faces prosecution on one count possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, one count possession of greater than 20 ounces but less than 160 ounces of low THC oil, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, one count possession of LSD with intent to distribute, one count possession of drug related objects nd one count possession of psilocybin (mushrooms) with the intent to distribute.

Both Thomas and Petersen posted a $50,000 bond and have been released from the Morgan County Detention Center pending trial.

According to the consent order signed by Superior Court Judge Hugh Winfield, III and ordered on Sept. 5, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office will receive 50 percent of the proceeds from the seizure; the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office will take a 25 percent share, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will take a 15 percent share and the Ocmulgee District Attorney’s office will take a 10 percent share.

The investigation and arrest, Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley said, was a cooperative regional investigation between Morgan, Oconee and Putnam counties’ law enforcement.

Along with cash, Judge Winfield also released a 1988 Ford F 350, a 1974 MG convertible, a Bobcat T 190 skid steer and a 7’x18’ double axle trailer to be sold. Along with the vehicles, more than 20 firearms and $1,960 in coins are also turned over to the law enforcement agencies.

Markley said funds from the seizure would  be used toward “drug enforcement investigations and law enforcement.”

“This is huge for us,” he said.

At the time of the arrests and seizure, Chief Deputy Keith Howard said the incident marked the largest seizure in the history of the department that did not originate in an Interstate 20 traffic stop.

In the past, Markley said, money collected from drug seizures, has been used to purchase patrol vehicle and canine officers. The money, he said, must be used for investigative purposes only.

“We take the administration of seizure proceeds seriously. The concept has been under a level of scrutiny recently and if it’s not done correctly it might be taken from all law enforcement.”

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