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October 24, 2001
Democrats sign on to contract to manage
County's DWI car forfeiture program
Mineola, NY - Democratic members of the Nassau County Legislature's Rules Committee in a 5-2 vote approved a contract between the County and attorney Andrew J. Campanelli, to manage the County's DWI forfeiture program. Under the program, which was adopted in 1999 in a traffic safety crackdown, police seize the vehicles of individuals arrested for drunken driving and auction off the cars. Proceeds from the auction were intended to provide revenue to the financially strapped County.
However, the program failed to get off the ground as the result of an understaffed county attorney's office that could not handle the growing backlog. Since the inception of the program, only 200 vehicles have been sold and at an average price far below that secured by other municipalities with similar programs.
In addition, most of the seized vehicles are sitting in parking lots, running up storage fees for the County and deteriorating in value. "The program is a good one that has successfully reduced the number of DWI arrests in Nassau County," said Legislator Lisanne Altmann (D-Great Neck) on behalf of the Democratic delegation. "But like many other beneficial programs in this County it failed because there was never any follow through or oversight by the administration. We now have someone in place who will see to it that the cars are sold in a timely fashion and that the anticipated $1 million or more in proceeds are directed to the County."
The contract with Mr. Campanelli calls for him to assume representation of the County in civil forfeit proceedings relating to the vehicles that are seized, to obtain title and conduct an expeditious sale while realizing the maximum value from each car. He will receive 26% of the net proceeds generated by the sale of the vehicles. In addition, he is required to hold an auction whenever there are 50 or more vehicles available for sale and to provide a detailed monthly report to the Police Department and County officials outlining the progress. The contract contains a 30-day cancellation clause.