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Jackson: Auction will be cathartic
• A court-ordered auction of items seized or forfeited in the Floyd County Schools RICO case is happening this Saturday at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds.

Chris Jackson

Brian Bojo

When planning an auction in the South, even if it's court ordered, a review of the SEC football schedule is a must.

The Georgia Bulldogs play the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, providing just the right opportunity in between two rivalry games for an auction of the seized and forfeited items from a RICO civil case concerning decade-long thefts of at least $6.3 million from Floyd County Schools.

It will be held at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds, starting at 11 a.m., and over 1,000 attendees are expected. As of late last week, over 300 people had already pre-registered, which can be done online at the Dempsey Auction Co. website. Registration will also be taking place the day of the event and is not limited to before the auction starts. Those wishing to bid must register before they can do so.

"We think (Saturday) is going to be one of those really positive days that puts a cap on this situation and says 'hey' we're getting there in the healing process," said Chris Jackson, an attorney with McRae, Smith, Peek, Harman & Monroe LLP. "A cathartic day ... cause there's not anybody in the county that doesn't somehow or another have a connection to the schools."

As Jackson and Brian Bojo, who is the court-appointed receiver in the case, began taking the initial steps of setting up the auction, they realized it wasn't as simple as finding a site and hiring an auctioneer. Bojo works with Jackson and their law firm is representing him in his receiver role. This case for Bojo has offered a few more twists and turns in comparison to previous cases, particularly in his involvement in settlement proceedings and planning the auction.

After putting bids out to auctioneers, Dempsey Auction Co. was selected, due to its experience in handling auctions of this scope before, Bojo said. The company isn't charging the school board any of the marketing expenses and is only receiving premium payments from buyers, President Lou Dempsey previously said.

Bojo and Jackson had to tag and catalog each individual asset, to make sure it's attributed to one of the 13 defendants it was seized from or forfeited by. Then the proceeds for each item have to be recorded.

"We still have to be very meticulous in identifying every item," Bojo said. "That's everything from the home, of course, to vehicles to heavy equipment to a hot water heater or a dishwasher. Being able to point each lighting fixture to the defendant it came from."

Dempsey Auction Co. workers have been working on developing a master catalog, which Bojo compared to the Sears catalog, of all the items.

In looking at the decisions needed to make the auction happen, the fiduciary obligation of a receiver applies, as it would to a trustee or the manager of an estate after someone's death, Bojo said.

Keeping expenses at a reasonable level is his responsibility.

"It's been remarkable how the community has come together," he said, adding that they have been provided excellent work without busting the bank.

Some of the vehicles and equipment taken in from the case had been sitting in storage for about two years, and needed some maintenance, from replacing batteries to inflating tires. Hiring a private company meant taking more money out of the school board's pocket, something that's also not intended for considering how much the system had already lost from the alleged thefts.

"Who knows how much money it would take to prepare the vehicles and heavy equipment for instance," he said.

"Like a NASCAR crew," Bojo said, prison work crews headed out to the sites where the items had been stored and maintained or took them back to the prison automotive shop for work.

And local businesses were used in everything from cleaning the pool to getting short-term insurance policies to setting up alarms and a surveillance system at the 241 Riverbluff Drive home, which former Floyd County Schools maintenance director Derry Richardson and his wife had lived in and allegedly built and furnished with illicit funds.

For example, short-term insurance policies were put on the vehicles as a solution to having to get them to the fairgrounds. It was determined this would be cheaper than hiring a towing company. The Exchange Club of Rome is forgoing any fees, outside of possible charges for utilities, related to the use of fairgrounds buildings for the auction, despite Bojo repeatedly saying he would pay the going rate, he said.

Also, the men's ministry at Dykes Creek Baptist Church will be cooking up food the day of the auction. Floyd County police officers are providing security Saturday and are monitoring the fairgrounds this week with the items having been moved there over the last week.

Wednesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., items will available for people to look over. Guns being auctioned off will only be at the fairgrounds for inspection Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and four Class 3 firearms will be auctioned off in an online-only sale Dec. 9.

A list of items being auctioned off is available on the Dempsey Auction Co. website.

EDITOR'S NOTE

This is Part Two in a two-part series on attorney Brian Bojo, the court-appointed receiver in a RICO case concerned alleged decade-long thefts of at least $6.3 million from Floyd County Schools, and an upcoming auction of seized and forfeited items.


Rome to set alcohol permit, water fees tonight
• Commissioners also plan to accept a PILOT agreement with Berry covering the school's planned senior living center.

The Rome City Commission is expected to set tonight the 2018 rates for alcohol sales permits and water and sewer service.

The board caucuses at 5 p.m. and starts its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Broad St. Both sessions are public.

No change is scheduled for water and sewer customers, although a significant hike is proposed for commercial operations that exceed the limits on contaminants in the wastewater they discharge.

Surcharge rates will at least double — depending on the strength of the pollutants — for issues with oxygen, total suspended solids, and oil and grease.

Some alcohol license-holders will likely see a decrease in their annual fees.

The city's finance committee took recommendations from the Alcohol Control Commission to set flat rates for beer and wine pouring licenses. In the past, the charge was determined by a base rate plus the volume of alcohol sold.

Beer package sales permits, however, will jump to $1,500 a year from $850. ACC members wanted to balance out cuts elsewhere and opted to press the convenience stores, where they said most underage sales and illegal gaming occurs.

"If they pay that much, they may think twice about risking their license," ACC member John Kendricks said at the time.

Commissioners also are expected to approve three new categories of pouring licenses. Brewpubs and microbreweries will pay a flat rate of $2,500 a year, which covers both making the beer and selling it. Hotels, salons and other businesses also will be able to pay $500 for a permit to offer complimentary drinks. Liquor-pouring permit fees that were based on the volume of sales will be capped at $5,000 a year.

Commissioners also are slated to approve an agreement will let The Spires make annual payments in lieu of taxes.

Berry College is building the $135 million senior living center near the old Florida Rock quarry and plans to annex the land into the city.

Under state law, the facility would be considered a tax-exempt nonprofit, according to City Attorney Andy Davis, but Berry is agreeing to a PILOT to cement the status for 10 years.

The annual amount would be set at $20,000 or $100 per occupied independent-living unit, whichever is greater. Plans call for 177 independent living units, 33 for assisted living, 34 with skilled nursing services and 33 with memory care.


String of events kick off holidays
Cave Spring heralds the season

Cave Spring kicked off the holiday season this weekend with its Christmas Open House on the square, heralding more events to come.

"You really want to be here for Christmas in the Country, the first weekend in December," said Glenda Wheeler, who was browsing the shops Sunday with her cousin Dennis Pledger.

The 14th annual arts-and-crafts festival is set for Dec. 2 and 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Rolater Park.

Pledger said more than 150 vendors turned out last year with items ranging from home-made fudge, soaps and local honey to stained glass, jewelry, furniture and pottery.

Santa will be greeting visitors in the town's iconic cave.

"And the Christmas Parade is so cute," Wheeler added.

The parade, at 6 p.m. Dec. 9, runs along Alabama Street to City Hall. Participants, including Santa Claus, start lining up at 5 p.m. on Perry Farm Road.

While the special events draw thousands, the Christmas Open House offered a more laid-back experience in the historic downtown district.

Shoppers strolled around the square while "We Need A Little Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman" and other holiday tunes filled the nippy air from a speaker in the gazebo.

Sherry and Jerome White came from Rome for lunch at Linde Marie's Steakhouse, then browsed for bargains — picking up a vintage Santa doll for $10. Ricky Conaway and his granddaughter Emilee Simons chose Southern Flavor for their meal.

"We live here and we love it," Conaway proclaimed.

There were tourists in town as well. Tom Bryant and James Lester said they took a drive over from Gainesville with their wives, who had always wanted to see Cave Spring.

"We were going leaf-watching, but we hadn't seen any leaves and we've never been here before," Lester said.

Steve and Cynthia Reynolds made the trip down from Armuchee for some holiday shopping. While it's nearly a 40-minute trip, the couple said they make a point to come often.

"It's so homey here and the people are so nice," Cynthia Reynolds said. "They treat you like family."

'It's so homey here and the people are so nice. They treat you like family.'

Cynthia Reynolds of Armuchee while visiting Cave Spring Sunday with her husband


Rome man accused of taking money, not doing work
• The grand jury also hands down indictments in cases including child molestation and aggravated assault.

A Rome man accused of taking money for property improvements from elderly people was one of 39 people indicted by the most recent Floyd County grand jury.

According to Floyd County Jail reports:

Ronald Dean Murphy, 44, was paid several thousands of dollars for work on homes and decks but, after taking the money, did not complete the work. His actions also caused at least one elderly man "mental anguish."

He was indicted on a charge of exploitation of an elder or disabled adult on Friday.

Murphy is also accused of similar crimes in Cherokee and Cobb counties.

Child molestation

A Floyd County man who was arrested in October has been indicted on a child molestation charge.

Police have accused Casey Shane Holcomb, 35, of committing a sexual act against a 14-yearold-victim.

Aggravated assault

A Floyd County man was indicted on an aggravated assault charge from an incident where police say he attempted to strike an elderly man with an axe and punched his mother in the face, then continued to threaten them by phone while he was on the run from police.

Zachary Daniel Patrick, 28, ran into the woods after the attack and then used his cellphone to call the victims and continue to threaten them while trying to avoid police.

The charge in the indictment does not necessarily show all the charges filed against a person accused of a crime. Others on the list from last week's deliberations are:

Macy R. James, false statements and writings

George E. Price, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

William H. Street, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act

Xavier V. Cannon, possession of prohibited items

Hollis H. Turner, possession of prohibited items

Leigh A. Linderman, contraband inside guardline

Kelsey S. Dial and Jerry R. Justice, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act

Scotty M. Chatman, sex offender registry violation

Morgan J. Sitz, sex offender registry violation

Robert L. Smith, sex offender registry violation

Tony T. Washington, sex offender registry violation

Jacqueline L. Brackett, sex offender registry violation

Bobby J. Cunningham, criminal damage to property

Jill M. Brown, financial transaction card fraud

Brittany J. Cowan and Michael L. Towe, terroristic threats

Jerry W. Sprayberry, criminal damage to property

Keisha H. Taylor, aggravated assault

Christopher R. Perry, aggravated assault

Ruben A. Solis, criminal damage to property

Edward E. Walraven, aggravated assault

Christopher C. Ely, Chelsi R. Smith and Jaden D. Tate, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act

Michael B. Perrien, aggravated battery

Aaron A. Watts, felony battery

Kevin W. Eddy, entering an automobile

Derek R. Hooper, aggravated assault

Amellio D. Price and Shane N. Womack, riot in a penal institution

Jason E. Buffington, terroristic threats

Rickey E. Hampton, burglary

Erin C. Ware, terroristic threats

Zachery K. Fraser, identity fraud

Stacey M. Gardner and James B. Spivey, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act

Kevin T. Hunter, aggravated stalking

Michael S. Marsh, exploitation of an elder or disabled adult

Roger C. Weems, exploitation of an elder or disabled adult

Justin O. Floyd, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act

Travis Vannell, sexual battery


TODAY'S YOUNG ARTIST

Today's art is by Model first-grader Victoria Nadu.