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Letter to the Editor

By Sheriff Paul Babeu

Over the past few months, you may have seen in the news that the ACLU is suing the State of Arizona including
the Pinal County Sheriffs Office regarding the use of RICO funds.
Now yesterday, the Goldwater Institute submitted a public records request to our office and put out a News
Release, asking for information explaining how the seized funds are used, the groups these funds are given to,
and what the County receives in return for the funds.
Much of the criticism over our use of the RICO funds have been donations we have made to Pinal County youth
programs, organizations that help disabled veterans, shelters that assist domestic violence victims and
organizations that help prevent teen suicides.
The Goldwater Institute said in their News Release, they want to know what we get back from these
The answer should be obvious, it is a safer community for our residents to live and raise their families. Pinal
County is rural and we dont have the same funding sources as many urban municipalities. These programs would
not exist or would be extremely limited in the services they provide to those in need if they did not receive our
financial assistance.
The Goldwater Institute says they want to ensure taxpayer money isnt being misused for personal gain or in
violation of the Arizona constitution. The RICO funding is not taxpayer money but rather seized criminal
money much of which comes from the Mexican Drug Cartels. The Department of Justice and Arizona Revised
Statute 13-2314.01 have made it abundantly clear that supplanting of funds for normal government expenses
is not allowed and in fact is illegal.
The RICO funds our office receives are approved by the County Attorneys Office and a Superior Court Judge.
The Department of Justice has stated that up to $25,000 of Federal RICO funds can be used to support of
community based programs. Examples they provide are drug treatment facility, job skills program, or a youth
program with drug and crime prevention education. The State RICO statutes says that at least ten percent of the
monies in the fund shall be provided to private, nonprofit community based organizations and gang prevention
and intervention programs.
Over the past seven years, the Pinal County Sheriffs Office has donated approximately 1.5 million dollars of
seized criminal money and given it to support youth programs like the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, High School
Graduation Night Lock in Events, Youth Sports, victim assistance programs and drug rehabilitation programs
such as the Home of Hope throughout our County.
The primary job of law enforcement is to protect our citizens. We are doing just that by using criminal money we
have seized from drug dealers and other criminals and reinvesting the money into programs to better the quality
of life in Pinal County. As long as the bad guys keep trying to make a living through committing crimes, we will
continue to provide this type of funding to organizations that restore victims and help keep our youth free from
drugs, criminal activity and gangs.