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Fraud case funds evidence locker

I see the city of Medford is building a new half-million-dollar evidence locker using money recovered from fraud cases. How did the city end up with all that money? Shouldn't those funds have been returned to the victims? What is the legal authority the city uses to capture these funds and spend them?

— Larry S., Jacksonville

To be accurate, Larry, the city is building the evidence locker with money from a fraud case, not cases.

Back in 2005, Christina Elizabeth Goodenow of White City stole the identity of her boyfriend's deceased mother by using a Visa card that belonged to the woman to make $12,000 in purchases, including lottery tickets.

In a stroke of luck for the Medford Police Department, Goodenow won $1 million in the lottery.

After she was arrested, Jackson County Circuit Judge Ray White ruled the winnings were proceeds of illegal activity and, therefore, property of the state.

White's ruling was upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals in 2012.

State law contains a formula that spells out how forfeiture proceeds are divided. The police get a 40-percent cut, 40 percent goes to drug treatment programs, 7 percent goes into a fund for meth-lab cleanups, 10 percent goes to the state and 3 percent is earmarked for the Asset Forfeiture Oversight Committee.

Medford police are using the money to make additions to the evidence control center in west Medford at a cost not to exceed $523,400.

We think there's a good moral to the story somewhere, Larry, but we'll leave the moralizing to others.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.