§ 7-15-4.1. Asset forfeiture fund.
(a) Title to all property forfeited pursuant to this chapter, except for that property awarded by the court to the victims of violations of the chapter pursuant to § 7-15-4(c), vest in the state of Rhode Island. There is established within the general treasury of the state a special fund to be known as the asset forfeiture fund in which shall be deposited all proceeds of any forfeitures. Where the forfeited property is a vessel, vehicle, aircraft, or other personal property the use of which reasonably relates to law enforcement duties, title to the property may be transferred to the law enforcement agency which seized it. Where the forfeited property is personal property the use of which is not reasonably related to law enforcement duties and where the forfeited property is real estate or an interest in real estate, it shall be sold under the direction of the general treasurer and the proceeds of the sale deposited in the asset forfeiture fund. Where the forfeited property consists of negotiable instruments, securities, or other intangible property, it shall be maintained by the general treasurer as part of the asset forfeiture fund and may be sold at his or her discretion and the proceeds deposited in the fund. Where the forfeited property consists of money, both coin and currency, it shall be deposited in the asset forfeiture fund.
(b) The fund shall be utilized for the following purposes:
(1) The payment of reasonable expenses required for the seizure, management and liquidation of forfeited property and for the reimbursement of federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies for any reasonable expenditures made by them in the performance of the preceding functions;
(2) The payment of awards for information or assistance leading to a civil or criminal proceeding under this chapter, provided that any payment or combination of payments to any one individual or group of individuals in excess of twenty five hundred dollars ($2500) from the fund must be approved by the presiding justice of the superior court or an associate justice of the court designated by him or her;
(3) The compromise and payment of claims against property forfeited pursuant to the chapter, provided that any payment in settlement of a claim which is in excess of twenty five hundred dollars ($2500) from the fund must be approved by the presiding justice of the superior court or an associate justice of the court designated by him or her;
(4) The payment of twenty five percent (25%) of the net proceeds of a forfeiture to the Rhode Island law enforcement agency or agencies which accomplished the seizure to be used only for the purposes of future investigations of racketeering activity as defined in these provisions. No law enforcement agency of the state is entitled to keep more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per calendar year under this section. No law enforcement agency of a city or town with a population in excess of twenty thousand (20,000) is entitled to keep more than thirty five thousand dollars ($35,000) per calendar year under this section. No law enforcement agency of a city or town with a population of twenty thousand (20,000) or less is entitled to keep more than fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) per calendar year under this section.
(c) The attorney general shall report each forfeiture pursuant to this chapter to the general treasurer within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the judgment of forfeiture by the court.
(d) Upon the application of any law enforcement agency of the state of Rhode Island when a special need exists concerning the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter, the attorney general may apply to the presiding justice of the superior court for the release from the general treasury of sums of money not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per investigation. When the presiding justice, upon consideration of the reasons set forth by the agency, deems the funds to be reasonable and necessary to the accomplishment of a goal within the powers and duties of the law enforcement agency, he or she may issue an order ex parte providing for the release of the funds.
(e) The attorney general and the general treasurer shall transmit to the General Assembly no later than February 1st of each year, a detailed report on the nature and value of the assets forfeited and their disposition, on the amounts deposited in the fund, and a detailed description of withdrawals from the fund and the uses of the withdrawals, during the previous calendar year, but shall not make any disclosure which would compromise any investigation or prosecution.
(P.L. 1985, ch. 353, § 2.)