As part of an investigation that may strip a suspect of his home and car, local detectives are currently compiling the final pieces of their case against alleged cocaine dealer Robert Carlton Lavilette, who was arrested by authorities last month.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit began its financial investigation of Lavilette’s assets after a search of the suspect’s 2756 Painted Cave Rd. residence yielded approximately 2 kilograms of cocaine and some $54,000 in cash on Aug. 30. During the investigation, detectives also found a variety of drug paraphernalia that included scales and drug packaging material. According to California law, assets purchased with funds obtained through drug trafficking may result in property seizure by the government.
The 52-year-old Lavilette was subsequently arrested for alleged possession of narcotics for sale and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, where he remains pending a $500,000 bail. The current financial investigation will determine the fate of Lavilette’s personal assets and could potentially result in the forfeiture of his property and financial holdings, including his home.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Dept. Sergeant Erik Raney said such investigations are typical of this sort of drug-trafficking arrest.
“Any time we seize drugs and take down a high-level drug-dealer, we take a look at their financial holdings and see if they were obtained from illegal activities,” Raney said.
In addition to the cash found at the suspect’s residence, detectives have seized Lavilette’s vehicle, his home and $140,000 from his bank accounts.
If the property and assets are forfeited, officials will allocate the proceeds to drug prevention organizations such as DARE and to gang reduction programs.
Raney said officials first became aware of Lavilette’s participation in illicit drug-related activities in July. Although Raney declined to comment in-depth on the criminal investigation against Lavilette, he said Lavilette faced similar drug-related charges in 1995.