Wed., December 7, 2011 3:31pm (EST)

Camden County Back In Federal Program
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 3 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Camden County is back in a federal program that shares seized criminal assets with local governments.  The county was taken out of the problem because of improper spending by former Sheriff Bill Smith.  (photo Davidson Scott)
Camden County is back in a federal program that shares seized criminal assets with local governments. The county was taken out of the problem because of improper spending by former Sheriff Bill Smith. (photo Davidson Scott)
The US Justice Department is putting Southeast Georgia's Camden County back in a federal seized assets program.

The decision comes three years after the agency kicked the county out for improperly spending funds.

When local law enforcement officials seize money and assets from drug dealers and others charged with federal crimes, the Justice Department shares the money with local agencies.

DOJ officials, however, booted Camden County from the program in 2008 after finding out former Sheriff Bill Smith spent the funds on inmate labor, a fancy car to show kids, and student scholarships, among other items.

Current Sheriff Tommy Gregory says, he got the county back in the agency's good graces by repaying improperly spent dollars.

"It went from being impossible to get back into this program to actually reinstating us earlier than they originally said," Gregory says. "We basically seized money from criminal activity under the state seized asset program and turned around a repaid the funds back to the federal government. And I'm proud to say, in two and a half years, we've paid over $500,000 back to the federal government using no taxpayer dollars."

Gregory re-paid the funds from a state seized assets program.

The DOJ money has brought Camden County between $700,000 and $3 million a year.