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Officials share in RICO windfall

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard, left, accepts RICO check from Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson. (Special Photo)

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard, left, accepts RICO check from Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson. (Special Photo)

JONESBORO — The weather outside might be frightful but Clayton and Fayette officials are delightful about sharing a pot of cash taken from a criminal enterprise.

A recent court ruling split $282,291 four ways, adding to the coffers of the district attorneys offices in Clayton and Fayette counties, and the police departments in Forest Park and Clayton County, said Clayton DA Tracy Graham Lawson.

Lawson said her share will help fund a cold case squad she will be forming in January.

“The money supplements what the county budget provides,” she said. “And it will probably help fund a new cold case squad. In the past, we’ve bought technology, vests and cars — all at no cost to taxpayers.”

Scott Ballard, district attorney for Griffin Judicial Circuit, which includes Fayette, concurred.

“It’s wrong for taxpayers to bear 100 percent of the burden to run a law enforcement agency,” Ballard said. “If you can get money from the criminals, I think you ought to do it.”

The money was seized as property belonging to Junaid Murshed Khan, 48, of Fayetteville. Clayton County and Forest Park police officers raided three stores owned by Khan last year. Lawson said the businesses operated strictly as gambling operations and visitors had to be buzzed in.

Lawson said Khan had had a similar operation in Fayette County. When police closed those stores through a previous raid, he moved his enterprise into Clayton County.

“The Fayette County prosecution helped us tremendously,” she said.

Ballard said he was happy to work with Clayton County officials.

“I love it when jurisdictions can assist each other,” he said. “I was so pleased to work with Clayton County on this.”

Lawson’s office got $93,600 and Ballard’s office got $46,800. Forest Park Police Department got $31,216. Chief Dwayne Hobbs said the money will be used to buy equipment and supplies.

Clayton County Police Department got the lion’s share with $110,675, said Lawson.

“Their narcotics unit will share that money with the other cities that have members on the Clayton County narcotics unit,” she said.