News 12 First at Five, September 4, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The city of Augusta has more money to keep you safe.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office received a check for more than half a million dollars Tuesday morning. It's the largest amount ever awarded to a local police department.
The money was seized from the owner of Vera Cruz restaurant, Emilio Sanchez, in 2004. $600,000 was found in Sanchez's home. He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison for filing false tax returns.
Since the sheriff's office conducted the investigation, the money was given to them to go toward bettering law enforcement.
Sheriff Ronnie Strength accepted the check. "These monies will be used to further other investigations, to buy equipment and to keep our other agencies' heads above water, especially during these hard times of needing monies," he said.
Some of the money will also go toward undercover investigations. People in the community say they'd also like to see money spent on having more officers patrol the streets.
"I would really like to see some more officers during the First Fridays because I'm a little intimidated after dark," says Lori Gambrell, who frequently eats lunch downtown. She says she feels safe during the day, but not at night, "I'd feel more comfortable coming downtown at night if there were more officers," she said.
Sheriff Strength says the money will be put to good use.