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Despite Sprint Auction's bankruptcy, investigators hot on money trail

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 1, 2001
Investigators with Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore's Office continue to track money Sprint Auction Co.'s customers say they have not received since an auction held in March.
Scott Leary, special assistant attorney general, said the investigation began after customers complained to the Auctioneer Commission that they had not received payments from items the Philadelphia company sold for them at an auction held March 28-29.
He said complaints came from private companies and individuals as well as from public entities like county governments.
Sprint entered bankruptcy proceedings through a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in South Carolina where its parent company is located on May 4. Sprint officials in Philadelphia said at the time they were prohibited from releasing information.
About the same time, the Mississippi Attorney General's Office seized the Philadelphia company's records and began an investigation.
Leary said state law mandates auction proceeds be put into an escrow account. The auction company takes out its commission and expenses, then remits the proceeds of the auction to the sellers, he said.
He said no additional auctions are being investigated in Mississippi.
While the Attorney General's office by law cannot represent the private citizens involved in the bankruptcy proceedings, "we've made our position known to the bankruptcy court," Leary said.
Lauderdale County Engineer Neal Carson said Sprint owes the county $19,995 for three used tractors and a used garbage truck the company auctioned in April.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.