Three local police agencies will share the bulk of the estimated $126,000 in cash and proceeds from house sales that the federal government expects to recoup in a local gambling case, authorities said Thursday.
The U.S. attorney's office has launched forfeiture proceedings for $84,000 in cash seized during gambling raids on houses in Amherst and Cheektowaga three months ago by the Amherst, Cheektowaga and Buffalo police departments, spokesmen for the office said.
The three police agencies will share 85 percent of the cash and the estimated $42,000 the government expects to recoup from the sale of two houses belonging to an Amherst woman and her son who were arrested in the raid, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Kaufman said. A Buffalo man also was arrested Sept. 9 in raids on the homes on Roycroft Boulevard in Snyder and Tudor Road in Cheektowaga.
Federal attorneys are conducting "serious settlement discussions" with attorneys for Vivian Cottrell, 49, and her son, Gregory Cottrell, 26, over the government's demand for their houses, Kaufman said.
If the Cottrells do not give up their claims on the money and the two homes, the government is prepared to go into federal court to prove the cash was the proceeds of a $100,000-a-month gambling operation and the homes were "business offices" for the gambling scheme, Kaufman said.
Erie County District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon said federal authorities are handling the forfeiture proceedings because state law limits the district attorney's office to seizing property and cash in felony-level cases.
Under a plea deal, the Cottrells and Dennis Parker, 27, of Kerns Avenue, Buffalo, face misdemeanor counts.
Gregory Cottrell and Parker were placed on probation Wednesday for three years and fined eized in raids
$1,000 each by Cheektowaga Town Justice Dennis J. Ciotuszynski on their guilty pleas to misdemeanor possession-of-gambling-records charges.
Gambling charges are pending against Mrs. Cottrell in Amherst Town Court.
Gregory Cottrell's Cheektowaga home is valued at about $70,000 but carries a $58,000 mortgage, Kaufman said. Mrs. Cottrell's Amherst home is valued at $85,000 but has a $55,000 mortgage, Kaufman said.
Kaufman said the federal Bureau of Prisons would use the federal government's 15 percent share for drug education and enforcement programs.