The purpose of the Department of Justice (DOJ) asset forfeiture program is to deter crime by depriving criminals the profits and proceeds of illegal activities while enhancing the cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. State and local law enforcement agencies that participate in the seizure of property and funds may receive a portion of the proceeds, or an equitable share of the forfeiture, to use for law enforcement purposes.
We conducted an audit of the Newport News Police Department’s participation in DOJ’s asset forfeiture program during the agency’s fiscal years (FYs) 2007 and 2008. The audit found that the police department generally complied with equitable sharing guidelines. Specifically, the police department submitted the federal sharing agreement and certification report on time, adequately accounted for receipts, and used asset forfeiture monies for allowable uses.
During the audit period, however, the police department commingled DOJ equitable sharing funds with other federal and state forfeiture revenues, which resulted in it reporting inaccurate receipts and expenditures on its certification forms. The police department also did not inventory all accountable property purchased with equitable sharing funds and furthermore could not locate two laptop computers sampled during the audit that cost $3,674. As a result, we developed 3 recommendations for the Criminal Division.
- Ensure that the Newport News Police Department reconciles its FY 2007 and FY 2008 asset forfeiture receipts.
- Ensure that the Newport News Police Department records all accountable property purchased with equitable sharing funds in its inventory.
- Remedy $3,674 in unsupported expenditures, the price of two missing laptop computers.