Major Drug Bust Photo

Citrus County Sheriff's Office narcotics detectives discovered these drugs in June during a search of a Beverly Hills home. Valued at roughly $970,000, this was the largest seizure in the agency's history.

The Citrus Memorial Health Foundation YMCA in Lecanto is the first recipient of a new county policy to spend money from the sheriff’s drug seizure account.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to award $2,500 to the YMCA to help pay for a series of teen nights at the facility to show teens they can have fun without drugs or alcohol.

“Youth development is a big priority at the Y,” said Sarah Metz, branch operations director. “This is something just for the youth to do.”

Commissioners earlier this year established a new policy for spending the fund, which has an estimated $100,000.

For several years Sheriff Mike Prendergast and his predecessor, Jeff Dawsy, spent the funds and provided updates to the county commission on how the funds were spent.

They froze the account in April 2018 after learning the statutory process had not been followed for years. The law says the funds are spent by county commissioners from recommendations by the sheriff or police chief.

Commissioners, particularly Ron Kitchen Jr., said funds in the past were used for such items as golf tournament sponsorships or other fundraisers.

The law says the funds may be used to pay for school resource officers, drug enforcement and prevention, law enforcement investigations and crime prevention. It cannot supplement regular operating funds.

Kitchen praised Metz for the presentation, and said the process now is more transparent.

“Everyone knows what the money is being spent on,” he said.

Money in the fund is collected through seizures of cash and property used in drug-related crimes. The sheriff must still sign off on the YMCA grant.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

(1) comment

StaciH

Please do not take this the wrong way; however, as stated in the article above, it states, "Commissioners, particularly Ron Kitchen Jr., said funds in the past were used for such items as golf tournament sponsorship's or other fundraisers. The law says the funds may be used to pay for school resource officers, drug enforcement and prevention, law enforcement investigations and crime prevention. It cannot supplement regular operating funds." May I ask why the money was given to the YMCA and not distributed among the proprieties that the law states they were to be directed to?

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