Time running out for claim on $195K in alleged drug money found by kids in woods

BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A 60-day window is about to close on claiming a load of cash that reeked of marijuana after it was discovered last October by some kids in a wooded area in Barrington.

The opportunity to claim the $195,000 that was stuffed in a pair of briefcases was posted on the government’s forfeiture website on June 2, starting the clock for potential claimants.

The process for the government to file a motion for default judgment would follow if no one files a claim under oath before the 60-day period runs out next week. It’s unstated how long that part of the forfeiture case would take.

If the money is officially turned over to the government, it would be split between the federal government and Barrington police, with the local department getting about 80 percent of the cash. That influx of about $155,000 would be big boost to the town’s $2.2 million police department budget.

Federal law restricts what a department can spend such lots of currency on, but a local government is not allowed to cut a department’s budget based on the amount of the forfeiture.

It was October of last year when a group of Barrington kids playing in a town-owned wooded area found a suitcase with two padlocks on it and told a parent, who brought it police the next day.

Officers then searched the area, and “a second suitcase was found wedged into a tree” about five feet off the ground.

The cash is named as the defendant at this point, but the filing states the money smelled like pot and was packed in a way “consistent with how drug traffickers group money.”

The document also noted that a 42-year-old who lives near the wooded area has a record that includes a conviction in 2012 for unlawful cultivation of marijuana.

Police did go door to door in the neighborhood after the loot was found and talked with the 42-year-old and a woman in the home, according to a government filing by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

“The two repeatedly said no,” when asked if they had lost anything recently.

Neither the 42-year-old nor the woman have been charged with any crimes connected to the stashed cash.

Target 12 has reached out them, but has not received a response.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.