|County gets $22,000 in forfeited items
February 8, 2011
WARREN – Trumbull County received more than $22,000 worth of goods seized from a would-be drug dealer, who apparently fled the area before showing up for his initial appearance in court.
According to a judgment entry signed by Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay, the county Prosecutor’s Office and Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force will share proceeds left behind by Kin Van Tran, who was charged with cultivating marijuana in July 2007 and never showed up for his July 23, 2007, court date, according to Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Adler.
A total of $905 in currency and a 2002 Chrysler Town and Country van is included in the proceeds gathered up after simultaneous raids at two homes – one in Vienna and another in Liberty.
TAG stands to get 75 percent of the proceeds and the Prosecutor’s Office 25 percent, according to McKay’s order.
Since Tran was never found and considerable time has passed, Adler filed for the forfeiture.
Adler called Tran a criminal associate of Tony Houng, who also was arrested in the raids that unearthed a huge marijuana growing operation connected with others in northeast Ohio.
An appellate court ruling in June 2009 affirmed an earlier decision by Trumbull Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan, who threw out the charges against Vietnamese native Houng, 46, of Girard, after ruling he was held in jail despite posting bond and he should have been brought to trial nearly a year before he was released from jail.
Houng had been held in jail from July 2007 to September 2008 after more than 1,100 plants were confiscated in raids at three homes Houng owns in Trumbull County, police said. Tran lived in one of the homes.
Houng was indicted in February 2008 on charges of illegal cultivation of marijuana and trafficking marijuana, both with forfeiture specifications, and two conspiracy charges for the cultivation and trafficking allegations.
Houng had been taken into custody after police said they found $50,000 cash and ”personal pot” in his residence.
Agents also searched Houng’s homes at 3705 St. Andrews Drive, Liberty, and 1900 Youngstown Kingsville Road, Vienna, uncovering 673 plants in Vienna and more than 500 plants at the Liberty house, according to reports.
Prosecutors had appealed Logan’s ruling of last September, claiming an agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement wanted a hold placed on Houng, who owned the three properties in Trumbull County, after he was arrested and was being held in Trumbull County Jail.
Appellate judges said Houng even arranged for $150,000 to be posted, but the jail refused to release the inmate because of the hold, which judges said was only enforceable for 48 hours after an arrest.
Prosecutors argued the hold on Houng was indefinite.
”The trial court further noted that none of the tolling events set forth in (state law) occurred during the period between Mr. Houng’s posting of bail and indictment. The trial court held that Mr. Houng was held in jail in lieu of bail, despite posting it. It further held the triple count provision of (state law) applied, and that Mr. Houng should have been brought to trial by Oct. 16, 2007,” the decision states.