Northampton County Seizes $156K in Drug Money
District Attorney says money seized from drug sales has helped Bethlehem police and Northampton Community College forensics lab.
Of course, they never intended to do that. But when police seized the proceeds from their drug sales, that money went to Northampton County's drug forfeiture and seizure program, which collected more than $156,000 for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
"We want to make sure drug use and drug dealing in Northampton County is very unprofitable," District Attorney John Morganelli said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the seizures.
Under state law, prosecutors can seize money, cars, real estate and other property that's either used to facilitate the sale of illegal drugs, or results from those sales.
Since beginning the program in 1992, the county has seized more than $1.6 million, a figure that represents both cash and proceeds from selling off seized vehicles.
Some years have been better than others; it all depends on how much police seize during the year. Last year, the program took in $283,000, its highest amount ever.
Morganelli said this past year was "one of the better years we've had...in the top two or three." The total was $156,106, with $124,028 coming from seized cash, and the rest the result of the proceeds of vehicle auctions.
Some of that money pays the salary of one of the county's prosecutors, and to help train police officers.
It also helps various local police departments and community groups. This year, that list included:
- Bethlehem Police: $10,000
- Northampton Community College's Forensics Lab: $5,000
- Bethlehem Area School District Police: $2,000
- Easton Area Community Center: $1,000
- Easton Block Watch: $1,500
- Easton Boys & Girls Club: $2,500
- Easton Police: $10,000
- Colonial Regional Police: $10,000
- Tatamy Police: $5,000
- Lehigh Township Police: $1,100
- Roseto Police: $5,000
- East Bangor Police: $1,000
- Pennsylvania State Police: $500
Morganelli acknowledged there's a disparity among the different amounts.
"We return large sums to those departments because they bring the money in," he said.
Other municipalities had requested their funding. He said virtually every community in the county has benefited from the program at one time or another.