MANATEE -- On the back seat of a silver Kia Enterprise rental car being driven east on Clark Road by Jose Manuel Duran, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office deputies found $250,040 in two dark-colored backpacks.
Duran was arrested June 15, 2011, and charged with violating the Florida Money Laundering Act, a crime for which the Sarasota man served roughly 11 months in jail, according to Wendy Rose, a sheriff's office spokeswoman.
Duran, who told authorities he was paid to deliver backpacks and knew nothing of their contents, forfeited the cash to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
A check for $20,000 from the seizure was presented Monday to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, or, more exactly, the police force of the airport, for its role in Duran's arrest and the seizure of cash.
Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight made the presentation to Frederick "Rick" Piccolo, president and chief executive officer of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, at 1 p.m. during a board meeting at the airport's Dan McClureAuditorium.
"Our airport police assisted the sheriff's office in this case, which involved the use of a rental vehicle to move cash that was suspected to be drug currency," Piccolo said.
The case began when a member of Police Chief James Carlino's Sarasota Bradenton Airport Authority force got a tip rental vehicles were being used to move large amounts of cash locally, a proud Carlino said Monday.
"This is a great thing for us," Carlino said. "This is the first time that the airportpolice department has received any seizure money."
The airport police force includes 16 sworn officers and 20 civilian employees, Carlino said.
"Once we got the tip, we passed the information to the sheriff's office's joint task force," Carlino said.
"This is a blessing. Itwill not only provide equipment we need, but itraises morale among themen and women of our force."
The $20,000 will bespent on adding stun gun Tasers, better safety lighting for patrol cars and incident command equipment for the airport police, Carlino said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.