Confiscated waterfront home in St. Petersburg on auction block

By Melanie Ave, Times Staff Writer
Published February 17, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG -- They say every home has a story, but in the case of one waterfront home in western St. Petersburg, that saying is especially true.

For months, neighbors have whispered and wondered about the stucco home at the end of a cul-de-sac at 8286 30th Ave., just off Park Street.

News trucks buzzed outside the home in the summer of 2006 when its owner became a criminal.

Until Friday, the 2,400-square-foot ranch style house in the Jungle Terrace neighborhood had a federal marshal's sign in the front yard and "no trespassing" signs posted.

From the water, boaters can see obscene graffiti painted on the home's back wall, just above a pool with green water.

"It's kind of frightening," said neighbor Dick Bradley, 73. "I don't feel good at all having a federal marshals" home down the street.

But next week, the spacious but outdated home with white ceramic tile throughout could again be a legitimate source of neighborhood pride.

Starting at 8 a.m. Monday and ending at 3 p.m. Wednesday, the forfeited home will be available to purchase via an online auction by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Numerous government agencies such as the IRS, Customs Service, Small Business Administration and the Marshals Service often end up with unwanted real estate through investigations, liens, foreclosures, criminal cases and other activities.

The minimum bid for the 1957 St. Petersburg three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, which is being sold by Bid4Assets of Silver Spring, Md., is $634,700. A deposit of $63,470 is required. Full payment is due within 30 days of the auction's close.

Public records show the home was purchased by Timothy Scott Simpson in 2002 for $830,000.

In August 2006, Simpson, who is now 45, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in a nationwide scheme that defrauded cable television companies.

He sold cable television descramblers on a Web site called MyBoxx.com. The devices allowed basic cable subscribers free access to premium cable channels, like HBO, Showtime and pay-per-view.

Simpson is serving a 60-month sentence in Oakdale federal prison in Louisiana. He's scheduled to be released in 2011.

The scheme netted Simpson $1.2-million between August 2000 and March 2003, he said in court. He sold 8,000 of the devices for prices ranging from $139.99 to $249.99.

"I never knew it was criminally illegal," Simpson said in court, according to news reports. "I really didn't."

Simpson, who said he has an engineering degree, pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit his 2002 Porsche 911 convertible and his house. At that time, the house was valued at $800,000.

On Friday, Bradley, Simpson's former neighbor, seemed almost relieved to hear why the home was in the custody of the Marshals Service.

He hopes property values in the neighborhood don't go down because of the home's twisted story.

"It's sad to see things like this happen," he said, walking up the driveway to his own home.

Times researcher Angie Drobnic-Holan contributed to this report. Melanie Ave can be reached at mave@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8813.


About the auction