A nearly three-month audit of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office’s drug seizure accounts revealed that the accounts had nearly been wiped clean before Sheriff James Woodruff took office in January.
“The people of Troup County have the right to know what happened to the money and why we don’t have any of the money,” Woodruff said.
The three audited accounts are funded through drug seizures, one from local drug seizures and the other two through federal seizures.
Woodruff asked during the county’s annual audit of county accounts by J.K. Boatwright and Co. to focus on purchases of more than $5,000 from July 2012 to December 2012.
The federal forfeiture account in July had more than $2 million, but by December had about $1,000 after checks had cleared after the audit, Woodruff said. The audit report showed that more than $1.1 million in merchandise or funds from this account were given to Georgia State Patrol.
“We do give to other agencies, but it is not common to give such large amounts to GSP in only a six-month period,” Woodruff said.
Items given to GSP include four canines, tasers, radar guns, 25 guns, cameras, operation readers and shotguns. Invoices were not found for more than $35,000 in purchases.
In the Federal Forfeiture-ICE account, $65,214.90 sat in the account in July. No funds in the account were used until December, when a donation of $63,755.77 was given to the state Department of Public Safety, leaving the account with just more than $1,500.
“It is unknown why that much amount was given away, but we usually don’t donate that much to another law enforcement agency,” Woodruff said.
It was discovered, but not listed in the audit, that a 2007 Dodge pickup truck was given to the Meriwether County Sheriff”s Office, and a Ford Expedition that was given to clerk of court was returned voluntarily.
Though the funds may have been frivolously spent, Woodruff said one large beneficial purchase made from the federal forfeiture account was a customized crime scene truck. The truck was purchased for $123,835 and would be used when deputies and investigators were dispatched to lengthy crime scenes investigations.
Other major purchases for the TCSO on the audit included 12 Ford Crown Victoria patrol vehicles totaling $340,560 and a sheriff’s dive team boat at $75,000, and $7,695 in miscellaneous car equipment. Equipment for the sheriff’s dive team totaling $11,938 and 10 invoices for uniforms totaling $7,882.66 were drawn on the local seized drug fund charter account, which contained $31,728.53 in July, though Woodruff said he is not sure who received the uniforms.
“It’s upsetting that so much was given away that we could have used here,” Woodruff said.
Former Sheriff Donny Turner could not be reached for comment.