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Drug money bill gets hearing today

CONCORD - Legislation to use the proceeds from money and items recovered from drug dealers to fund the State Police cold case unit will be heard by a legislative committee today.

A special squad was formed with the help of a federal grant a few years ago and told to try to solve many of the murder cases in the state that have gone unsolved - some for decades. But federal funding for the program is due to run out on June 30.

State Rep. Robert Cushing, D-Hampton, has proposed turning to the ill-gotten gains of drug traffickers to fund the unit. New Hampshire law allows prosecutors to petition a court to force drug dealers to turn over money and property that are the property of drug crimes.

Cushing's proposal would reduce the cut that the investigating police department and the state Attorney General's office receive from the first $500,000 of seized assets. from 45 percent each to 40 percent, and send the extra funds to the cold case homicide unit fund. The cold case unit would get 35 percent of funds over $500,000.

A fiscal note attached to House Bill 661 projects that in the 2012 fiscal year, the proposal would have returned $9,824 to the cold case squad. Total expenditures for cold case investigations that year were $278,083.

billsmith@unionleader.com


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