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Police to auction off seized goods

Thirty vehicles, sound equipment and electronics are among the items that will be for sale Saturday.

By LEANORA MINAI

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 28, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- If you're in the market for a car or recording studio equipment, the St. Petersburg Police Department is the place to be Saturday morning.

At 11 a.m., the city will begin taking bids and selling property seized from people arrested and charged with felonies.

For sale are 30 vehicles, many of which belonged to St. Petersburg car rental business owner Rashie Witcher, who was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for dealing crack cocaine.

The trunk of one car, a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, is nothing but stereo amplifiers and speakers, enough power to outfit Tropicana Field.

"We'll throw in two free tickets to your favorite audiologist," joked S. Wayne Smith, the department's legal adviser, who helped organize the auction with Detective Jeff Jensen.

Money raised from the auction, the first this year, goes to pay police expenses and charities. The department raised about $60,000 at its November sale.

State law says property used to commit a felony offense, as well as assets from illegal activity, can be seized by police and sold.

"If we come down hard on people, they'll think twice about doing it," Jensen said.

On a recent tour of the Police Department's parking lot, Jensen pointed out the vehicles.

There is a Jeep Cherokee. "We picked this up from somebody who was actually buying crack cocaine at the time," Jensen said.

He passed a 1999 Toyota Tacoma.

"He was stopped buying crack cocaine," Jensen said.

Cars are not the only draw. There's a 60-inch color television, and equipment from Witcher's recording studio.

"We got all his expensive microphones, rhythm machines," Jensen said. "I don't understand half the stuff and what they do. I just know it costs money."

If you go

Viewing begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at the St. Petersburg Police Department, 1300 First Ave. N, with nearly 100 items and scores of bicycles. A list of the items can be picked up at the police station. A minimum bid may be announced for each item. A $500 deposit is necessary to hold all property except items that sell for less than $500. Payments must be made in cash, cashier's check or money orders. Local bank checks will be accepted for items sold under $500.

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