Originally created 07/10/02

Police get cash for drug arrest



Sheriff Ronnie Strength's budget got a big boost Tuesday as federal officials handed him a check for nearly a quarter-million dollars for his office's role in bringing down drug kingpin Robert "Fat Boy" Snell.

The money, taken from Mr. Snell's forfeited property and drug earnings, can be used only for law enforcement purposes, such as buying weapons, conducting training or planning undercover operations.

Sheriff Strength smiled Tuesday as he accepted an oversize check for $236,575 from Rick Thompson, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The sheriff said it probably was the largest check he has received as part of the federal government's equitable-sharing program.

"We're always excited when we get these checks, but we are more excited when we take these guys off the street," the sheriff said.

Mr. Snell, known as Fat Boy in drug circles because of his size, admitted making millions in the drug trade when he pleaded guilty last year to selling large quantities of cocaine, methamphetamines, Ecstasy and marijuana.

Mr. Snell, 46, also agreed to surrender $2.5 million in drug money, two trucks and a lavish five-bedroom home in Grovetown. In March, the U.S. Marshals Service sold the home.

Chief Judge Dudley Bowen Jr. sentenced Mr. Snell to 27 years in prison last year after he agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Mr. Snell's downfall came at the hands of several agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division and sheriff's offices in Richmond and Aiken counties. SLED will receive a check for $22,629 as part of its share of the forfeited property.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.