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Jackson: RICO Auction to be a ‘cathartic day’

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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.

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 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.