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Spoils of drug trade up for bids

The auction includes vehicles, electronics and a personalized golf cart seized from a man who pleaded guilty to federal drug charges.

By LEANORA MINAI

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 6, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Undercover drug detectives hit a jackpot when they arrested Tyrone "Heavy" Taliaferro.

Now citizens could, too.

The profits of Taliaferro's crack cocaine trade are for sale. They include about six vehicles, tools, televisions, stereos, computers and the gem: a six-passenger golf cart with rolling neon lights, CD player, TV, VCR and hydraulic pumps that raise and lower the buggy.

"Yeah, that is the crown jewel of our auction," said St. Petersburg police Detective Jeff Jensen. "He just obviously had more money than he knew what to do with."

Red fuzzy dice dangle from the mirror of the cart. A rap-music drama, Belly, is in the VCR. Rumor is, the electric golf cart, complete with a Jaguar hood ornament, was once driven into a professional wrestling ring.

At least 100 items from Taliaferro's home will be stacked on tables or parked at the St. Petersburg Police Department. Viewing begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by bidding at noon. Those who plan on spending more than $500 should bring $250 for a deposit. There were so many items seized from Taliaferro that police had to schedule a special auction to sell them.

Those who don't want to be seen in a cart with the phrase "Drop It Like It's Hot" emblazoned across the side might want to check out the tricycle with an installed stereo system or the jewelry: Mr. T-style chains and pendants.

No refunds or exchanges and no touching will be allowed during public viewing.

"We actually had somebody walk away with a cell phone one year," said the department's legal adviser, Sherman Smith.

Taliaferro, 37, who lived on Irondale Street S, pleaded guilty in September to federal charges of distributing cocaine. He will be sentenced Dec. 13 in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

Taliaferro was arrested and charged with operating a drug house in 1989 and 1991. He also has convictions for trafficking in cocaine, sale and possession of cocaine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

He cannot stop the auction because state law says assets and property from drug sales can be forfeited. And state court has given the okay for this sale.

Neither Taliaferro nor his wife, Wanda F. Taliaferro, have had any reported income for the past five years, police said.

Vice and narcotics detectives recovered $15,000 cash as well as a stockpile of goods from their home, including several thousand dollars worth of shoes and clothing with price tags still attached.

"A lot of the stuff we have we believe people would come in and trade for crack cocaine," Jensen said. "A lot of it was just pack-ratted away in his house."

Mrs. Taliaferro said she was able to get back some of her belongings, including a baseball signed by Mickey Mantle. She added that the belongings that authorities seized were purchased with money she and her husband earned from their jobs.

For now, she said she is worried about her husband and taking care of her family. "I don't cry over material things," she said.

Police say the cars should bring the most money. Up for sale are a 1990 Volkswagen Corrado, 1970 Cadillac, 1991 Lincoln Town Car, 1986 Mercedes 420 SEL, 1969 Mercury Marquis, 1992 Dodge Winnebago, 1986 Chevrolet Camaro, 1979 Ford utility van and 1995 Chevrolet Impala SS.

The vehicles will be started during the viewing.

Money raised from the auction will go to police expenses and charities. The department has hosted two auctions this year and raised nearly $60,000.

The auction

The rules: A minimum bid may be announced for each item. A $250 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.

The auction, which begins at noon Saturday at the St. Petersburg Police Department, 1300 First Ave. N, will feature nearly 120 items, most of them seized from Tyrone "Heavy" Taliaferro. In addition to about six vehicles, several electronic and household items will be auctioned. Here is a partial list of the items:

Weller soldering gun

Black & Decker circular saw

NEC laptop computers

Ms. Pac Man arcade game

Sony digital camera

Zenith big screen TV

Green Egg cooker and grill

Genie 5HP vacuum

Nintendo 64 video game console

American DJ fog machine

Commercial barbecue trailer

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