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Police efforts yield bounty from drug-seizure auctions


Last year, a freighter seized by federal agents as part of a massive drug investigation was sold at auction for $3.2 million in Norfolk, Va.

Friday, the Anne Arundel County Police Department got its cut of the proceeds.

U.S. Attorney Richard Bennett presented county police with a check for $243,855 for their help with two federal drug investigations that netted a bonanza of cash, boats, race cars and other items prosecutors say was purchased with illicit drug money.

"The point is that crime doesn't pay for the criminal, but it does pay for the taxpayer," Bennett said at a press conference Friday.

County police netted $79,704 yesterday for helping with the investigation of Samuel Scalio, a former Pasadena resident who moved to Mobile, Ala., before he was arrested in 1985 and convicted of operating a continuing criminal enterprise, said Dennis P. Howell, a Drug Enforcement Administration investigator.

The $79,704 was the county's share in the sale of Shotto's $320,000 house in Mobile, Ala., he said.

Federal authorities also have seized three boats, snowmobiles, race cars, and up to $700,000 in cash in connection with the Scalio case.

County police netted another $164,150 from last year's sale of the M/V Liberty, a 330-foot freighter federal authorities say was acquired by Ernesto Forero-Orjuela, a Colombian national, as part of a money laundering scheme by the Columbia-based Cali drug cartel.

Forero-Orjuela remains at large and never came forward to contest federal seizure of the ship, Howell said.

U.S. Customs received $600,000, and the DEA netted roughly $1 million from the ship's sale, Howell said. The balance went to the ship's creditors.

Federal authorities say the ship was partly owned by John R. Shotto, who was shot and killed Sept. 4, 1991 as he left a business meeting in Southeast Baltimore. The killing is still being investigated, Bennett said.

The money was distributed yesterday as a part of the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing program, a federally mandated policy which requires the department to share proceeds from drug busts with state and local agencies that help with the cases.

Bennett said the money must be used by the police department, and can pay for anything from overtime for officers to new guns, but it cannot replace funds for regular budgetary items.

Neall and Police Chief Robert P. Russell said yesterday they would have to discuss the issue before deciding how the money should be spent.

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