The purpose of the Department of Justice (DOJ) asset forfeiture program is to deter crime by depriving criminals of 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. The Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section oversees the DOJ asset forfeiture program.
The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General conducted an audit of the Salem Police Department’s participation in the DOJ asset forfeiture program during the agency’s fiscal year 2008. During the audit period, the Salem Police Department received over $57,000 and spent over $78,000 equitable sharing funds. The audit found that the Salem Police Department primarily spent these monies to enhance and support law enforcement capabilities of the police department. However, we found weaknesses with the police department’s reporting of receipts and expenditures and reconciling asset forfeiture funds requested with those received. We also identified $550 in questioned costs related to expenditures we consider unallowable under program guidelines. As a result, the audit provided the following recommendations to the Criminal Division, which oversees the use of equitable sharing funds by recipients.
- Ensure that the Salem Police Department reports DOJ receipts and expenditures separately on its annual certification form.
- Ensure that the Salem Police Department periodically reconciles the equitable sharing funds requested and the corresponding amount received.
- Remedy the $550 in questioned costs due to unallowable picture frame purchases.