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Department gets $54,000 from drug arrest

The Laguna Beach Police Department received $54,000 from a

narcotics forfeiture based on an arrest made by Sgt. Guy Miller in

May 2001.

“The money will be used to fund our 10th dispatcher position,”

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said Chief James Spreine.

Police seized $130,000 in cash from a 36-year old Laguna man who

had been pulled over for missing a license plate on his Toyota

pick-up.

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“Things didn’t add up when Sgt. Miller interviewed him,” said Sgt.

Jason Kravetz. Kravetz said Sgt. Miller ended up finding $130,000 in

the man’s possession.

More than an ounce of marijuana was also seized during the search.

The driver was arrested and released with no charges pending. Later

through an attorney, the driver worked out a deal with the District

Attorney’s office to split the money, said Kravetz.

In a civil matter, the burden of proof that the funds were not

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obtained in an illicit drug sale lies on the defendant. The revenue

and taxation code stipulates that a person cannot carry more than

$10,000 in cash unless they are transporting that money directly to a

bank. Forfeiture laws have been on the books since the mid-1980s and

officials say funds received have not only benefited cities and

police departments, but hurt drug trafficking at its heart.

“Any time you can take profits away from illicit drug dealing you

hit their operations,” said Bob Hussey, executive director of the

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California Narcotics Officers Assn. “These are very successful laws.”

-- Mary A. Castillo

Free tram service is a hit

Hundreds of people have caught the wave, as in the free tram

service offered by the city.

As of this week, ridership doubled from last year, said Bill

Liebel deputy director of the city public works. About 130,000 riders

used the tram last summer.

“The system is free, the routes are simplified so the buses come

more often and the new catch the wave logo,” he explained.

Liebel also credited aggressive marketing with the Chamber of

Commerce and the Visitor’s Bureau. The tram service costs the city

$125,000. It is comprised of three routes servicing South Laguna,

North Laguna and the canyon.

On weekends the city uses reserve main line buses to meet the

demand for rides to and from and canyon. As a result, the Act V

parking lot has seen a 46% increase over last year’s usage, said Pat

Berry, director of community services.

“As many as 800 cars come through it on a weekend day,” Berry

said.

Between 400 and 500 cars use the lot Monday through Friday.

Parking only costs $3.

The tram service and Act V will remain in service through Sept. 1.

-- Mary A. Castillo


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