(Source: Juan Ortega Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (MCT) — Two black Chevrolet Camaros shimmered in the sun, polished and new, ready to be used by the Broward Sheriff’s Office to crack down on aggressive driving.
Criminal investigators with the Internal Revenue Service on Monday celebrated the success of a 2010 money-laundering inquiry by presenting the two Camaros to the Sheriff’s Office — and doling out nearly $3 million to help more than a dozen Broward law enforcement agencies and cities.
The money will help fund resource officers and equipment at several Broward schools, a new police training facility in Pembroke Pines and other police-oriented projects, officials said.
“Economic times are tough,” said Pembroke Pines Police Chief Dan Giustino. “It’s greatly needed, so it’s going to be very helpful.”
In 2010, Wachovia Bank agreed to pay $160 million to the U.S. government to settle charges that it failed to stop Mexican money-exchange houses from laundering billions of dollars, including drug-trafficking funds, through accounts at the bank, authorities said.
Broward County‘s Money Laundering Task Force, which includes numerous Broward law enforcement agencies, helped the IRS investigate Wachovia. It helped review more than nine million documents, officials said.
Of the $160 million paid by Wachovia, nearly $3 million was given to the task force, which is divvying up the funds among the Sheriff’s Office and police departments in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Hallandale Beach, Miramar and Pembroke Pines.
“Today we get together to kind of celebrate and show why it’s very important for us to work together,” said Jose “Tony” Gonzalez, special agent in charge for the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division.
Sheriff Al Lamberti added: “We work very closely with our federal partners, and because of that we’re able to reward the good guys and punish the bad guys.”
Giustino said the Pembroke Pines Police Department plans to use its roughly $140,000 share to help fund a new police training facility and to buy equipment for its detective bureau.
Elected officials took turns discussing how the money would go to good use for their cities.
“It looks like our funds will be used for school resource officers, for a police Explorers program and for traffic safety,” Oakland Park Mayor Anne E. Sallee said. “We would get our youth involved in trying to improve the safety of the city and the residents, from the ground up.”
Deerfield Beach Mayor Peggy Noland said: “Our money is going to be used for our resource officers in our school, some equipment and hopefully some more personnel.”
Lamberti said the two Camaros donated by the IRS will be used by sheriff’s deputies to “combat aggressive driving” on several South Florida highways.
“We thank the IRS for that,” Lamberti said. “It’s actually an extra bonus, something that we can point to and see that what we did was a good thing.”
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