Following a two-day trial, today a jury found that over a quarter million dollars and other property was the proceeds from the drug trade and therefore subject to forfeiture by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Newport News Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy S. Fisher presided over the trial.
Drug asset forfeiture cases are civil suits filed by the Commonwealth against money and property that are proceeds of the drug trade. Any such proceeds may be forfeited to the Commonwealth, where they are shared between the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and participating law-enforcement agencies. The goal of the drug asset forfeiture law is to disrupt the cycle of turning the sale of dangerous drugs into money.
The case began on May 17, 2011 when the Newport News Police were dispatched to the home of Jeffery Alan Summers in response to the report of an armed home invasion and shooting. There they found Summers suffering from a gunshot wound, to which he later succumbed. Found in a tool chest in his garage was the U.S. Currency, sixty grams of cocaine, and paraphernalia associated with the distribution of cocaine.
At the trial Summers’ former cocaine supplier testified that he had met Summers in the early 2000s, and soon thereafter began supplying Summers with approximately two kilograms of cocaine per month. Summers’ fiancé also testified that she often observed Summers meet with the supplier and had helped Summers count his weekly earnings from selling the cocaine. She also testified that Summers used the profits to purchase the vehicles and boats that he owned.
The trial was one of the first of its kind to be decided by a jury and involved the largest seizure in Newport News pursuant to the state’s forfeiture laws. In total, the jury awarded to the Commonwealth $252,659.00 in U.S. Currency, three vehicles and two motor boats.
“In the end, crime doesn’t pay, and the forfeiture of this drug money is proof of that,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Pohlner, who represented the Commonwealth of Virginia in the case.