Asset Forteiture Unit
The Asset Forfeiture Unit of the Madison County District Attorney's Office focuses primarily on drug-related crimes in Madison County and is responsible for seizing assets for violations involving several statutes including:
· Violations of the Alabama Controlled Substances Act
· Promoting gambling
· Weapons offenses
· Production of Child Pornography
The office employs one full-time prosecutor, James Tolleson, who works on asset forfeiture and related civil cases. Each year, he and his legal assistant Teresa Benedict, aided by Investigator Jermaine Nettles, file hundreds of civil claims based on criminal violations against individuals who use various assets such as vehicles, homes, or money to further their criminal activities. The Unit works closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement officials and on average condemns well over $1,000,000 in cash and property annually.
The Alabama Legislature allows the Asset Forfeiture Unit to remove the financial incentive for committing these crimes within Madison County and to return the money to law enforcement to assist in continuing the fight on crime.
This unit takes a proactive role in condemning for the use of law enforcement all assets seized during drug raids and arrests relating to the illegal drug activity. This work not only deprives drug dealers of their ill-gotten gains but also enables the office to generate money that can be returned to the agencies that fight illegal drug activity for such things as improved equipment, specialized training and undercover operation expenses. Items that can be forfeited by court order for use by law enforcement include: cash, vehicles, guns, scales, safes, computers, phones, etc. Other property, such as houses, bullet-proof vests and high-tech equipment are often confiscated and condemned as well.
Once a judgment of forfeiture is entered by the court, the currency and property are turned over to the Circuit Clerk’s Office, which distributes the funds between the participating agencies for specific law enforcement uses. Property that can be reused for legitimate purposes, such as computers and laboratory equipment, are sometimes donated to schools and other public agencies.