Sheriff Asks For More $ To House 'Gravy Train' Suspects

Sheriff Asks For More $ To House 'Gravy Train' Suspects

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St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells is asking for more money from county lawmakers to pay for housing suspects rounded up in a major drug sweep earlier this month.

Of the more than 100 suspects rounded up in Operation Gravy Train, more than 60 are locked up in the county's jail in Canton. 

That forces the sheriff's department to ship inmates to other facilities, a practice called out-boarding, and that's expensive.

The department has already exceeded its 2017 budget for out-boarding.

"There are 38 inmates housed out right now and with those inmates they bring up a cost of approximately $102 a day." 

Less than two weeks after Operation Gravy Train shook out one of the largest drug operations in the north country's history, Wells spoke in front of the county Legislature's operations committee Monday night asking the board for more money to out-board prisoners.

He says he needs to do that to making room for those arrested in Operation Gravy Train.

"All those people that are being housed out right now are sentenced inmates, so they would be sitting here anyway," Wells said, "and they are the easiest ones to move and to let someone else keep an eye on them." 

Wells is asking the committee to increase the budget amount from $30,000 to $250,000 -- a 733 percent increase.

But county Administrator Ruth Doyle says an exact amount is still unknown.

"Though there has been speculation, we still do not have a number, there are assignments still being made," she said. "Most of the time, unless for an extraordinary circumstance, we will ask to bill at the end of the case and we are just at the beginning of that." 

Committee members voted in favor of giving the money, but the official vote will be on July 10.

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