By Shelley Grieshop
WAPAKONETA -- A tug of war is underway for more than $2,600 in cash that law enforcement officials and the Auglaize County prosecutor have labeled "drug money."
Auglaize County Prosecutor Ed Pierce filed a civil action -- a petition to forfeit -- in Common Pleas Court seeking to officially award the money to the city of St. Marys; St. Marys police officers confiscated the cash during a drug bust in July.
But a respondent in the case, Dawn Marie Rupert of St. Marys, disagrees. Rupert, of 860 Townview Terrace, was arrested at her home July 12 and charged with possession of marijuana which was seized along with the cash. Officers located the money and digital scales, allegedly used for weighing the drug, in Rupert's dresser drawer.
According to her response to the prosecutor's petition, Rupert claims the cash was withdrawn from her bank account and not used or intended for use in the commission of a crime. She calls the removal of the money from her home a "sham" and claims the police owe her daily interest on the full amount. She seeks the court's denial of the forfeiture, the immediate return of the cash and full compensation for attorney fees and other costs.
Rupert, 19, has pleaded not guilty to a fifth-degree drug possession charge. A pretrial/change of plea hearing is set for Sept. 13. She is represented in the civil and criminal cases by attorney Robert W. Kehoe of Wapakoneta. The prosecutor's petition also names Jervon Samwond Ward, of the same address, as a co-owner of the cash. As of Friday he had not yet responded to the proposed forfeiture. Following the July 12 raid at his residence, he was arrested for drug trafficking and criminal child enticement.
The money involved totals $2,650 and currently is being held by the police department. The denominations include three $100's, four $50's, 103 $20's, eight $10's and two $5's.
If the money is awarded to the city, it likely would go into the city's general fund and be earmarked for the needs of the police department, St. Marys Police Chief Greg Foxhoven told The Daily Standard.