Justice Department Transfers Dayton Property to Oasis House as Part of Operation Goodwill
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 20, 2013|
DAYTON, OH—U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart and Acting U.S. Marshal Pat Sedoti of the Southern District of Ohio hosted an event this morning signifying the transfer of ownership of a property seized as part of a federal criminal case that will now be used as a safehouse for women trying to escape prostitution and the sex industry.
The transfer marks the first time in Ohio that a property seized from a criminal has been transferred to community use through a Justice Department program known as Operation Goodwill.
U.S. Attorney Stewart and Acting Marshal Sedoti were joined by FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Hughes and Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl in presenting the keys and a ceremonial deed of transfer to Cheryl Oliver of Oasis House.
“This house is a symbol of change,” U.S. Attorney Stewart said. “Once acquired through illegal activity, it will now serve as a safehouse for women and support them as they escape the sex industry.”
Investigating agencies seized the house in 2010 during a successful investigation by the Dayton Police Department and the FBI into a Dayton drug dealer. The drug dealer purchased the house as a way of laundering proceeds from his drug dealing activity. The drug dealer was sentenced to prison. The house was forfeited to the law enforcement agencies, who agreed to turn the property over to the Oasis House.
“The Operation Goodwill program allows the Justice Department to transfer seized properties to non-profits, such as the Oasis House, to convert the property from criminal use into a positive, community-based endeavor,” Acting U.S. Marshal Patrick Sedoti said.
“Members of the Dayton Police Department have long recognized that arrest of persons involved in prostitution was ineffective without meaningful intervention, including residential treatment services to rehabilitate the lives of those who are ensnared in this lifestyle,” Dayton Police Chief Biehl said. “The Dayton community will now be able to provide more effective intervention for prostituted women and reduce the substantial harm they experience, as well as the harm to communities from prostitution activity.”
“We are hopeful this property will be transformed into a community resource that will bring positive change to this neighborhood and the lives of those who are served at Oasis House,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Cornelius.
“Without Operation Goodwill, women would still be cold this December and for every December coming,” said Cheryl Oliver, Executive Director at Oasis House. “Without this project, there wouldn’t be a safe place for these women to go.”
Through Operation Goodwill, forfeited real or personal property can be transferred to state or local governments in support of drug abuse treatment, drug crime prevention and education, housing, job skills, and other community-based public health and safety programs. Operation Goodwill was established in 1997 but was revised in 2010 to streamline the transfer process.
Any designated non-profit organization can apply to participate in Operation Goodwill. To participate, they must complete a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Justice to use the property for at least five years under specific circumstances.