I had emailed Ms. Dee Holzel who runs www.silverpinyon.com and she replied back with the following message:
Thank you for your note. I, too, think this is an important story -- not just for us in Winnemucca.
Just so you know, the money seized by Sgt. Dove is kept in a secret account. The DA's Office does the accounting on this secret account, which has no oversight nor is independently audited.
They SO uses the money, they say, to buy equipment and for two years have hosted a 420 drug-interdiction conference where they teach other law enforcement agencies their tactics. When they settled the two federal lawsuits, the money to settle was drawn from this account and the checks were signed by the deputy DA.
Now the county is involved in a third lawsuit, and I'm wondering how much could possibly be left in that secret account. How long before the money they use to settle these lawsuits is drawn from taxpayer accounts, as opposed to money they seized from highway travelers.
The DA's Office has declined to release any information on this secret account. After all, it's not taxpayer dollars. I have attempted to get the AG's Office to intervene, but they declined. When members of the Humboldt County community wrote letters of complaint to the AG's Office over this secret fund, the AG's Office turned the complaints -- along with the names and contact information of the complainants -- over to the Humboldt County DA's Office. This is no small matter in a little town where retribution is a very real thing.
I have verbally requested the financials from this secret account. The DA indicated he would turn them over, but did not.
So here's what's coming next. This week I'm putting my request in writing. If I still get no response, I am seriously considering going to court and filing a motion to compel for the release of the financials. Even though this is not taxpayer money they're sitting on, it is kept by public officials and used for public purposes. I believe they're sitting on the financials for political reasons.
Anyway, this is far from over.
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