Last summer, the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office (GTSO) in Traverse City, Mich., opened a 7,000 square foot, $800,000 recreation service building that was built from funds solely deriving from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
More specifically, the building was built with funds from a case originating in 2007 where HSI Michigan and Ohio, with assistance from the sheriff's office, investigated Rosenbaum, Cunningham International (RCI), a Florida-based company that was ultimately found guilty of harboring illegal aliens and ordered to pay approximately $16 million in federal tax fines. By the end of the investigation, more than $3.2 million in assets owned by RCI corporate members were seized.
The purpose of this new building was to establish a location for the GTSO Recreational Services Division, which includes the Marine Division, Snowmobile Division and Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement Division. Prior to this building, GTSO had equipment stored at various locations throughout the county. The sheriff's office wanted to find a location, situated in the center of the county, which provided quicker access to their equipment.
The building provides GTSO with a single location to store all of the associated equipment that law enforcement personnel use, such as boats, snowmobiles, accident investigation vehicles, crime scene equipment and emergency response vehicles. In addition, the building has fenced in space for securing other GTSO vehicles, vehicles that have been seized or forfeited, office space, a locker room for the recreational services employees and a wash rack for GTSO vehicles.
With the rest of the money, the GTSO also bought about $58,000 worth of tazers for the road patrol. With that addition, every deputy now carries a tazer. They also purchased air cards and three years of service. Additionally, the sheriff's office allocated approximately $72,000 for air card service for their mobile data terminals. This allows the sheriff's office greater flexibility and range with their data terminals, and saves a significant amount of money due to the elimination of the dependency on modems in their patrol cars.
"Seizing this money from criminals and giving it to local law enforcement sends the right message to the public and to criminal organizations," said William Hayes, acting special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. "These funds will now be put to good use in the community through the efforts of the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office."
Background of the Investigation
A worksite investigation of RCI ultimately led to the administrative arrest of 244 RCI employees and the conviction of three corporate owners and three supervisors. RCI President Richard Rosenbaum is currently serving a 10 year federal sentence as a result of his conviction.
A subsequent investigation led to HSI discovering that RCI had contractual cleaning services with numerous other national restaurant/entertainment chains throughout the United States.
In June 2009, members of the RCI investigative team received the Department of Justice "Outstanding Case of the Year" award for this worksite case. It is the only ICE-led worksite case to receive such an award.
Hayes praised the relationship between the the sheriff's office and HSI for making the case such a success.
"Local law enforcement often plays a role in advancing federal investigations," said Hayes. "That was certainly the case in the RCI investigation."