MARKSVILLE – Over a half million dollars in cash was seized from what began as a shoplifting report involving two sisters.
The amount is believed to be largest amount of cash ever handled by any local law enforcement agency in Avoyelles Parish.
On Wednesday, June 8, Marksville police arrested the sisters on several different charges and their car was impounded. Once the car was impounded, police say they found a large quantity of drugs and $500,000 in cash. Police have confiscated the drugs and cash, along with the car, and notified the FBI and Louisiana State Police.
According to Chief Ellis Walker, his office got a call about a disturbance and possible shoplifting at the CVS drug store. An officer arrived and asked the two sisters to leave the store after a store employee said items in a bag set off the alarm when they tried to leave the store.
The sisters got into their car but one got out of the car and re-entered the store and continued the dispute. In the meantime, the other sister went back in the store and picked up the bag of items and put them in the vehicle. It was at that time the two were arrested.
Felicia M. Ford Benjamin, 41, of 359 Felix Street was charged with disturbing the peace, resisting an officer and battery on a police officer. Jessica Monique Ford, age 27, of 2217 Mary Jane Drive, Mansura was charged with disturbing the peace, interfering with the duties of an officer and battery on a police officer.
A 2002 white Saturn LS was impounded after the driver refused to let police search it. Police found $1,500 cash in the front seat area. As the search continued a huge amount of money was located in a black case in the car, along with numerous pill bottles in the back seat area. The case contained the $500,000 wrapped in cellophane, as well as drugs and empty drug bottles.
Additional charges were made on both females. Felicia Benjamin was charged with possession of schedule III, possession of schedule IV, sale, distribution, or possession of legend drugs without prescription order prohibited, and money laundering, involving proceeds of criminal activity. Jessica Ford was charged with possession of schedule II, possession of schedule IV, sale, distribution, or possession of legend drugs without prescription order prohibited, money laundering, involving proceeds of criminal activity, and prohibited acts- all schedule.
Officials did not say what was in the bag that caused the initial dispute.