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story.lead_photo.caption The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen CHECKING UNDER THE HOOD: Potential buyers look over some of the vehicles sold Friday at the 18th Judicial District East Drug Task Force auction at the Bill Edwards Center. - Photo by Richard Rasmussen

Vehicles seized under the authority of the state's civil asset forfeiture law and auctioned Friday at the city of Hot Springs' Bill Edwards Center sold for close to $30,000.

Most of the proceeds will go to the 18th Judicial District East's Civil Asset Forfeiture Fund, which supports the 18th Judicial District East Drug Task Force. The multiagency unit charged with interdicting illegal drug trafficking in Garland County is partially funded by property and money it and other agencies seize during drug arrests.

A 2011 Dodge Charger raised the most money, selling for $5,600. It was one of several vehicles auctioned Friday that were owned by someone other than the person arrested in the accompanying criminal case. According to court records, the owner agreed to forfeit the vehicle in exchange for a plea agreement in a criminal case the Garland County prosecutor's office ultimately withdrew.

The criminal case referenced in the civil matter's agreed order wasn't filed against the owner, but rather the resident of a Windy Hill Street address where officers with the Hot Springs Police Department executed a search warrant in April of last year. According to the affidavit supporting the criminal charges, more than 4 pounds of marijuana were found in the Charger.

The defendant named in charging documents listed the Windy Hill residence as his home address, but the forfeiture petition cited the April 2018 arrest of a juvenile as the accompanying criminal action.

The 2004 Jeep Liberty that sold for $1,350 was also forfeited as part of a plea agreement, with the prosecutor's office agreeing to withdraw a felony charge of marijuana possession with purpose to deliver in exchange for a misdemeanor guilty plea and the forfeiture of the vehicle and $1,115.

Charges were also withdrawn in the criminal case that was the companion to the forfeiture action brought against the 1998 Ford Mustang and 2004 GMC Sierra auctioned Friday. The prosecutor's office withdrew felony drug trafficking charges against Ryan Michael Matone, 39, but he's facing five felony drug counts in federal court after U.S. attorneys claimed in a criminal complaint that he sold meth to confidential informants during three controlled drug buys last summer.

Charging documents filed against Matone in the state case local prosecutors withdrew said authorities found almost 8 ounces of meth during the execution of a search warrant last July at the Albert Pike residence Matone listed as his home address.

Matone didn't respond to the forfeiture petition, allowing the two vehicles and $4,668 to go to the county's asset forfeiture fund by default. Most of the vehicles auctioned Friday were forfeited by default, with their owners failing to file timely responses.

Bob Goodman Real Estate & Auctions Inc. sold the following vehicles at Friday's auction:

• 2000 Honda Accord -- $700.

• 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 -- $1,900.

• 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse -- $375.

• 2001 Nissan Maxima -- $500.

• 2004 Suzuki -- $400.

• 2009 Chevrolet Impala -- $3,600.

• 1994 Toyota Corolla -- $550.

• 1998 Ford Mustang -- $325.

• 2004 GMC Sierra -- $800.

• 2001 Honda Civic -- $575.

• 2008 Chevrolet HHR -- $1.500.

• 2003 Ford Expedition -- $1,100.

• 2011 Dodge Charger -- $5,600.

• 2004 Jeep Liberty -- $1,350.

• 1996 Oldsmobile DLT -- $800.

• 2009 Pontiac G8 -- $2,600.

• 1999 Chevrolet Lumina -- $750.

• 2001 Buick Century -- $600.

• 2004 Chrysler Crossfire -- $2,200.

• 2006 BMW 325i -- $2,800.

Local on 05/18/2019

Print Headline: Auction raises funds for Drug Task Force

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