LAWRENCEVILLE, Georgia — The U.S. justice department is demanding tis money back from a Georgia sheriff who used a government grant to buy a $70,000 muscle car that he uses to drive to and from work.
In a letter to Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway the DOJ characterized the purchase of a Dodge Charger Hellcat — a 707-horsepower muscle car that some have called the fastest sedan ever built — as “extravagant.”
The purchase of the vehicle, which was paid for with federal asset forfeiture funds, was initially approved, but now the feds are questioning if the Hellcat is being used for what the department said they planned to use it for.
Conway stands behind the purchase.
“Sheriff Conway maintains that this vehicle is an appropriate purchase, especially for an agency with a $92 million budget and the opportunity this vehicle provides in making our roadways safer,” Deputy Shannon Volkodav, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The initial application said the car could be used for a program that stages drag races in controlled environments to educate drivers about the dangers of illegal street racing. The department also said the car could be sued to undercover and covert operations.
But the DOJ questioned the car was a legitimate purchase.
“The vehicle in question is a high-performance vehicle not typically purchased as part of a traditional fleet of law enforcement vehicles,” the department wrote in a letter to the sheriff.
The sheriff’s office defended the claim, saying he sheriff also used it “when he participates in field operations, covert and otherwise, with our deputies.