Scott County Sheriff's Department auctions off seized items; proceeds going to schools

Thursday, February 23, 2012
Stanley Harris, right, takes bids on tools as Kerry Tidwell gathers the next items on the auction block Wednesday morning during the sheriff's sale at the Scott County Highway Department. More than 50 people attended the auction of seized assets such as tools, car parts, a boat with a trailer and a pickup truck. The auction raised $16,560, which benefits Scott County schools. (Laura Simon)

BENTON, Mo. -- The auctioneer rattles off number after number, along with hums and indecipherable words, as he scans the crowd to spot the lucky winner. Several dozen have gathered around the auto parts and tools strewn across the floor of a Scott County Highway Department garage Wednesday morning.

Don Evans, the auctioneer from Oran, Mo., hums his way through hundreds of wrenches, saws, radiators and hammers in a rapid-fire pace. The items have new owners in under an hour.

"We have 30 ... 35 ... 40," he said, barely opening his mouth while auctioning off a wrench set.

It was just another auction for Evans, but it was both rare and beneficial for Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter and Scott County schools.

That's because it was the only seized-items auction Walter has ever held in his 12 years as sheriff, and its proceeds will go to schools.

The auction raised $16,560, and once Evans' fee and a tax lien on a truck are factored out of the total, schools will get the money. The exact amount of the balance had yet to be determined late Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm happy with the attendance today," Walter said at the auction. Forty-eight bidders registered to make offers on items.

Confiscated items are typically sold outright and in smaller quantities. Wednesday's auction had more than 100 items.

A 1996 Dodge Ram 3500 truck and a 2006 Blaze 1752V aluminum boat, along with its motor and trailer, received the highest bids. The truck and boat brought in more than $12,000.

All of the items auctioned Wednesday belonged to John Greenlee, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of stealing $133,250 worth of plant fertilizer from a Scott City company. He was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison but was released in September, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

Greenlee had bought the items with money he earned from selling the stolen fertilizer, Walter said.

Greenlee is now awaiting trial on first-degree statutory sodomy, statutory rape and child molestation charges. He allegedly sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in August 2010. His attorney, Jennifer Slone, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. His trial is set to begin March 14, according to online court records.

Per Missouri law, property acquired as part of a crime can be seized by authorities and sold if its rightful owner does not claim it within a year. Federal law states that individuals don't necessarily need to be formally charged or convicted of a crime for police to seize their property.

Any money gained from state forfeitures must help fund public schools, according to state law.

Although Greenlee was convicted in a federal court, his property was seized by Scott County officials in June 2010, roughly five months before he was indicted.

Walter said he worked with Scott County prosecutor Paul Boyd to make the items available for the auction. Boyd filed a motion to seize the property in 2010, and Judge David Dolan ordered the sale last month.

"We've had this stuff stored in the jail for a while," Walter said of Greenlee's confiscated items.

Auctions in Cape Girardeau County are also rare, said Capt. Ruth Ann Dickerson, who coordinates the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department's sales. A judge has to order sales of confiscated items, and those are held in front of the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse.

The county's last sale was about four months ago and a single duck call was sold for $4,500, Dickerson said. The call was a part of a civil suit regarding a partnership and the hunting device's price was highly inflated, Dickerson said. Money from the sales goes back to the court to help settle suits, Dickerson said.

Few people wanted to talk about their purchases at Wednesday's auction. One bidder, Bob Stokes, said he was pleased with the saw he got, although he came to the auction not looking to buy anything.

"It was worth the asking price," Stokes said. "I didn't really want it, but it will come in handy."


Pertinent Address:

497 Charleston St., Benton, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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