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Property seized in synthetic drug probe auctioned

Exponent Telegram photo by Matt Harvey Neena Walls and her father-in-law, Bill Ater, attended the auction with her sons Bentley and Blake in her hopes of landing lots in Lost Creek. They were unsuccessful as the price went out of their range.
Exponent Telegram photo by Matt Harvey
Neena Walls and her father-in-law, Bill Ater, attended the auction with her sons Bentley and Blake in her hopes of landing lots in Lost Creek. They were unsuccessful as the price went out of their range.

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — A raid that shuttered the Hot Stuff and Cool Things head shops in Clarksburg and Buckhannon continues to pay dividends for the Greater Harrison Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.

While most of the forfeitures from the case were finalized and distributed to the task force long ago, an auction was held Thursday at the Bridgeport Conference Center for 10 properties seized during the investigation.

About 50 individuals showed up for the auction operated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in conduction with the IRS.

All of the properties put up for bid were sold, with the final total coming in at $484,400, according to IRS Special Agent Mary Lou Prillaman, asset forfeiture coordinator for the agency.

Neena Walls, 32, of Clarksburg, showed up with father-in-law, Bill Ater, 68, also of Clarksburg, and with her children Bentley, 3, and Blake, 21 months, in tow. Walls had hoped to win the bidding on one property.

She dropped out, however, when she decided the bidding had gone too high due to the amount of work that would be necessary to reclaim the property.

She added that she’d not been to a real estate auction before, but may do so again if there’s property in which she and husband, Mat Walls, are interested.

Ater said the auction was “run right,” though he added that it “was a little pricier than I thought it would be.”

IRS Special Agent and Public Information Officer Jeff James said some of the money made at the auction will go to pay administrative fees, such as what it cost to hire CWS Marketing Group to put on the auction, as well as what it cost to employ a property management company to oversee the homes and land from the time of seizure until final sale.

Properties brought as much as $134,000 — for a former Seventh Day Adventist Church at 614-616 W. Main St. in Clarksburg — to as little as $2,400 for an uninhabitable home at 2007 Pearlman Ave. in Clarksburg.

Individuals who had been involved in the head shops’ illegal bath salts business had purchased the properties as a way to dispose of the money they were churning on a daily basis while briefly making North Central West Virginia an epicenter for the synthetic drug…

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