Asset Forfeiture Unit
The Asset Forfeiture Unit is a specialized unit that works to seize anything used or intended to be used to facilitate illegal activities, including: illegal drug trafficking, illegal gambling operations, drunk driving, environmental polluters, buildings used in violation of nuisance abatement laws and vehicles used in connection with prostitution.
ILLEGAL DRUG TRAFFICKING (DRUG ASSET FORFEITURE)
Anything used or intended to be used to facilitate drug dealing shall be subject to forfeiture by the Asset Forfeiture Unit. (MCL 333.7521 et seq)
The Asset Forfeiture Unit has forfeited millions of dollars in monetary and non-monetary assets to law enforcement agencies from drug dealers and those who facilitate the distribution of drugs since Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy took office in January 2004.
ILLEGAL GAMBLING OPERATIONS
The Asset Forfeiture Unit strives to eliminate profits from illegal gambling operations. In 2004, the Asset Forfeiture Unit, together with the Wayne County Sheriffâ€™s Department, shut down a major gambling operation forfeiting approximately $1.8 million dollars in currency from the illegal operation. The forfeited money was used by the seizing law enforcement agency and the Prosecutorâ€™s Office to further combat crime in Wayne County.
ILL-BEGOTTEN PROCEEDS AND SUBSTITUTED PROCEEDS OF CRIMES (OMNIBUS FORFEITURE)
The Omnibus Forfeiture statute (MCL 600.4701 et seq.) is another tool used by the Asset Forfeiture unit to protect county citizens from crime. The Unit forfeits assets from criminals who engage in particular activity, as named in the statue, like armed robbery and internet crimes.
OPERATING WHILE INTOXICATED â€“ VEHICLES USED TO VIOLATE DRUNK DRIVING LAWS IN MICHIGAN
In October 2004, the Asset Forfeiture Unit began an historic program through a seldom-used provision of the drunk driving statute: the forfeiture of vehicles used to violate drunken driving (OWI) laws in the State of Michigan or local ordinance, and the nuisance abatement laws. Support for the program poured in from local law enforcement agencies and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The purpose of the program is to protect all persons using the roads located in Wayne County from dangerous driving behaviors of drunk drivers. Any and all money raised from this program is distributed as mandated by the drunk driving statute. Since its inception, the OWI Vehicle Forfeiture Program has processed over 2,000 vehicles sending a message to vehicle owners and drivers that drunk driving is viewed as a serious offense by the Wayne County Prosecutors Office and law enforcement agencies.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit has assigned an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney to prosecute certain environmental crimes cases committed within Wayne County. Not only are polluters criminally charged, but also face the imposition of fines, penalties and possible forfeiture of assets used to commit the environmental crimes. The Prosecutorâ€™s Office has won cases for the County that causes the polluter to clean the property and agree not to engage in environmental polluting in the future. Further, the polluter also pays a fee into the Prosecutorâ€™s Environmental Trust Fund. The funds paid into the Prosecutorâ€™s Environmental Trust Fund are issued to community groups throughout the county to assist them in cleaning up targeted sites.
In an effort to improve the quality of neighborhoods in Wayne County, the Asset Forfeiture Unit prosecutes businesses and private landowners for participating in or operating illegal enterprises such as prostitution, drug sales, and illegal gambling. In a civil action, the Asset Forfeiture Unit seeks to eliminate the illegal activity by either padlocking the building or enter into an agreement with the landowner requiring the landowner to use the property for a legitimate purpose only. The Asset Forfeiture Unit maintains compliance with the agreement through court action if the terms of the original agreement are violated.