Seized luxury: Sheriff says designer shoes ‘most unusual’ seized items

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jason Snuggs uses his smartphone to photograph a Versace shoe at the Aug. 12 commissioners’ court meeting while Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell watches. It was among three pairs of Versace and Gucci shoes that had been seized by county authorities. The shoes were auctioned this month.

Designer shoes top the list of “most unusual” items seized and awarded to the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office since Sheriff Terry Gilbert took office in 2013, he says.

Two pairs of Versace shoes and one pair of Gucci shoes were found inside of a vehicle that was seized and awarded to the CCSO, Gilbert said.

“We don’t look for shoes,” Gilbert said. “That don’t happen. That’s probably the most off-the-wall thing I have ever heard of being seized but that’s because they were in the car.”

He described the designer label shoes as “brand new in a box.”

After being listed on an online auction website since Wednesday, Aug. 28, the pairs of Versace shoes sold for $550 and $460 each while the Gucci pair sold for $500, Gilbert said. The auction closed Wednesday, Sept. 11.

During certain criminal cases in which items are seized, an affidavit is prepared for district court and the district attorney’s office and filed within 30 days, Gilbert said. “Everyone is then notified” by the district attorney’s office that a seizure has taken place and there will be an upcoming court date. The case is then posted to the docket before it’s heard in court before a judge.

If a judge rules in favor of the CCSO, the agency waits 30 days before doing anything with the awarded items, which can include vehicles, in case of an appeal, he said.

Cars and cash make up the majority of what’s seized and awarded.

Items purchases with Chapter 59 funds:

• K9 dog and related dog equipment

• Body Cameras for patrol deputies

• New Drone

• New in car camera systems for new patrol vehicles

• New body armor carriers for patrol deputies

• Training for investigators and patrol deputies

• Investigative equipment for CID and DEU (crime scene cameras)

Awarded vehicles can either be sold at auction or added to the CCSO fleet, Gilbert said. One undercover vehicle came into the fleet this year.

“Usually we just let a group of them build up so we can have 5 or 10 in an auction,” he said.

Cash, Gilbert said, is a little different.

“There’s no time, maybe other than overnight, that cash is housed in this office,” Gilbert said of cash that is seized. “It all goes straight to the treasurer’s office and is put into the bank.”

He said if the cash is awarded to the CCSO, the district attorney’s office cuts a check “back to the sheriff’s office to the treasurer’s office.”

“Once I receive that, I take that back to the auditor’s office and then surrendered that check to the auditor and she puts it into the Chapter 59 line item at the county and that money eventually goes back to the bank,” Gilbert said.

As of Aug. 20, $73,311 in cash had been awarded to the CCSO this year, information provided by Gilbert says.

All monies obtained from seized items awarded to the sheriff’s office go into the Chapter 59 fund, he said. Its fund balance as of Sept. 13 was $173,000, Gilbert said.

According to the Texas Criminal Code of Procedure, Chapter 59 funds do have restrictions. However, the money may be used to purchase vehicles, firearms and protective body armor, to name a few.

Since Gilbert took office in 2013, awarded monies have been used to purchase the CCSO’s K-9 and its equipment, body cameras, crime scene cameras, a new drone, in-car camera systems for patrol vehicles and body armor carriers. Funds have also been used to pay for some training, he said.

Gilbert said $30,000 of the CCSO’s Chapter 59 funds are budgeted each year for operational costs.

“We try to use Chapter 59 funds to supplement the regular budget,” he said. “We don’t burden the taxpayer with operational monies. We are creating our own operational money … This allows the criminal’s money to help relieve the burden on the taxpayer.”

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