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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Passaic County Forfeiture Fund account holds nearly $2 million

Issue Detail:

I have uploaded checking account statements from January 2009 through August 2010 for the Passaic County (New Jersey) "Confiscated Funds Trust Account." Those statements are available here: This is the fund that holds money confiscated by police from criminal defendants and others under New Jersey's asset forfeiture law. (It may also contain moneys received through the federal government's asset forfeiture sharing program.) As of August 31, 2010, the balance in the account was $1,888,395.57. This money can be expended for "law enforcement purposes" by the county prosecutor. While the payees on the checks disbursed from this account are disclosed on the bank statements, they can easily be obtained by submitting Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests for specific checks. For example, one could submit a written OPRA request for "a copy of both sides of check number 1596 for $18,256.59 from the County's "Confiscated Funds Trust Account." While an OPRA request needs to only be in writing and not on any specific request form, Passaic County's OPRA request form is available at http://www.passaiccountynj.org/PDF/modelrequest.pdf John Paff Somerset, New Jersey Parenthetically, I note that while the fund has, since January 2009, maintained a balance of greater than $1 million, it is held in Wachovia "Government Advantage Interest Checking" account. On August 10, 2010, Wachovia paid the county $74.77 as interest for the month of July 2010 while the balance during that month was $1.9 million. This translates to approximately .05% (i.e. .0005) annually. I did a quick on-line check and found that Investor's Savings Bank pays .49% on 91 day Certificates of Deposit. So, even if Passaic County were to invest $1 million of its "Confiscated Funds Trust Account" balance in those CD's instead of the checking account, it would realize an extra $4,400 per year in interest.




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