Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught met with the Wetzel County Commission Tuesday morning to discuss the prosecuting attorney office's investigative fund. Haught reassured commissioners that everything is fine with the fund, but he wanted to file a report so commissioners could see how the fund is managed.
Haught stated when he took office there was "approximately $10,000" in the investigative fund. "I don't think I've ever come back and asked the county commission to make any other contributions," he noted.
Furthermore, "The reason I can do that is that the fund is funded by two sources. One, whenever we use that money for a drug buy, we provide money to law enforcement. They take that cash money and then buy drugs from targets. If (that case) is successfully prosecuted, which most are, the court issues an order as part of that person's sentence to reimburse the fund."
Haught added that this process of reimbursement may take several years and that the average drug buy runs between $30 to $60. "When law enforcement needs money to make buys, we withdraw cash from that account, provide it to law enforcement, and then they conduct their investigation."
Haught said that his office receives 10 percent of all cash or money seized or property sold from a drug investigation. "There have been some times when I have waived the 10 percent, for instance, when the sheriff's office has gotten a vehicle seized and they are using it through the sheriff's department. If they aren't immediately selling that vehicle, I've waived the 10 percent." He added, "Sometimes, they'll use one of those seized vehicles as an undercover vehicle to tail people or make a drug buy."
Haught said that other expenditures included compensation for witnesses for gasoline and travel expenses and also money for purchases of equipment, such as tape recording equipment and other digital equipment.
"Basically, we've been able to keep that fund in the black and have not had to come in to request money from the county commission," Haught stated. "I don't anticipate having to do that ...."
He added, "We've also gotten other sources for drug money. Some of that federal agencies have provided on some of the buys, and so we didn't have to provide the money. Some has been provided through the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations."
Haught stated that the best development in the last two years was the BCI help in Wetzel County. "That's the case that led to the 29 indictments out of the Villas and surrounding the Villas," Haught explained. "All of those cases were funded by the WV State Police, so orders of restitution that the defendants will make are to the WV State Police."
Haught also spoke of the segregation of duties in his office, as auditors recommend. Haught said to segregate the cash-related duties for a drug transaction, his administrative assistant will fill out the withdrawal slip; he will retrieve the necessary amount of money, and his administrative assistant and himself will make photocopies of the money afterward. Haught said that the law enforcement accounts to him how they spend the money in drug transactions. He added that he has had no issue with management of his investigative fund money that he gives to law enforcement.
Haught also stated that law enforcement keeps photocopy records of the money on their end.