Auction turns criminals' property into cash
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Fancy cars, expensive furniture, flat-screen TVs -- they are all items seized from criminals and drug smugglers, and on Thursday they went to the highest bidder.
We don't know the individual story behind each piece of merchandise, but it's all been forfeited to the federal government when the original owners were convicted. Proceeds go back to law enforcement and crime victims.
Everything on the auction block was either bought with dirty money or tainted by it. It was confiscated by federal marshals and ordered sold. On Thursday, there was no shortage of willing buyers.
From trucks to TVs -- even a pair of commercial wine coolers that came out of someone's forfeited home -- bidders wanted to take one home.
Every auction has a centerpiece item. On Thursday, it was a 13-year-old Porsche Carrera. The winning bid was $16,100. It was purchased by Pastor Donald Ellison for his wife.
"Does she know you bought a Porsche?" we asked him.
"Of course not," he said.
And her face was priceless when she found out.
"How do you like your new car?" we asked her.
"My husband bought this?"
"Yes ma'am," we told her.
"You've got to be kidding me!" she replied with excitement.
Another item up for auction -- an iMac fetched $1,000.
You can call it recycling, the profits of crime from drugs to white collar. The former owners are in prison ,with no use for lawn furniture or transportation.
Minus auction expenses, the money generated by the auction will go to law enforcement or victim's restitution funds. It's something auctioneer Kevin Scully keeps in mind as he guides the bidding along.
"'The victims may be in the crowd, actually watching me auction off to see how good a job we're doing, to see if we did a standup job for them, to get back what they deserve," Scully said.
The auctions, we're told, are held on a fairly regular basis and they are all conducted by Apple Towing and Auctioneers.
local, deborah wrigley
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