Lawrenceville, GA – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is demanding reimbursement for $70,000 that a Georgia sheriff spent on a high-powered sports car that he drives around for work.
The DOJ sent a letter to Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and called the purchase of a Dodge Charger Hellcat as “extravagant,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The vehicle was purchased with asset forfeiture funds and was previously approved by the federal government. But the DOJ is now questioning if the muscle car is being used for its stated purpose.
Sheriff Conway is defending the purchase of the Dodge Charger.
“Sheriff Conway maintains that this vehicle is an appropriate purchase, especially for an agency with a $92 million budget and the opportunity this vehicle provides in making our roadways safer,” said Deputy Shannon Volkodav, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The sheriff’s office bought the Hellcat in April for $69,258 and said they would comply with the DOJ request to be reimbursed.
The application to purchase the vehicle said Dodge Charger Hellcat would be used in a “Beat the Heat” program, a non-profit that uses drag races in controlled environments to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and illegal street racing, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The July 10 letter from the DOJ said that guidelines prohibit use of asset forfeiture money for extravagant expenditures.
The DOJ also took issue with the request that stated the sheriff would only use the car for undercover and covert operations.
Sheriff Conway said besides driving the car to and from work, he also uses it when he participates in covert field operations with his deputies.