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U.S. Justice Dept. awards Spokane police $120K as its share of forfeited home sale

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(The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Justice handed the Spokane Police Department a big check – nearly $120,000 – on Thursday.

The payment was SPD’s share following the sale of a home, where the department, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration and an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, seized around 20 pounds of methamphetamine, according to a press release.

Helmut Borchert pleaded guilty to a possession charge with intent to distribute and was sentenced in October 2021 to more than a decade of imprisonment; but in addition to his sentence, Borchert also had to forfeit his home, according to court documents.

The U.S. Marshals Service has since sold that home, and per regulation, SPD was awarded 80% of the revenue, $119,621.45, which it can use on administrative costs, training, law enforcement facilities, equipment, joint operations and contracts, among other things, according to a federal guide on equitable sharing between agencies.

“The reason why methamphetamine traffickers, like Mr. Borchert, deal drugs dangerous to our community is to enrich themselves,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division, in the release. “Asset forfeiture is an important tool to strip traffickers of their ill-gotten gains while, at the same time, giving something back to the communities they preyed upon.”

The Department of Justice uses its Asset Forfeiture Program, first to “remove tools of crime” from criminals but also to enhance cooperation with varying levels of law enforcement, according to the release.

“We are grateful to our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for awarding SPD significant dollars, which will be used to continue the effort to shut down other drug operations that threaten our community and put the vulnerable and increasingly, our children, at risk,” said Justin Lundgren, SPD’s interim police chief, in the release.