Hundreds turn out for auction of items in embezzlement case
The auction of ill-gotten merchandise brought in about 240,000.
By SEAN BARRON
NORTH LIMA -- Jim Wilkins enjoys taking his six grandchildren out on Mosquito Lake in the two boats he's bought over the years.
At an auction Saturday, he bought a pontoon boat for 3,500 to add to his collection.
"I saw the boat in the [Vindicator advertisement]," the Girard man said. "I knew when I walked through the door I was going to get it."
Wilkins and hundreds of other people bid on and bought boats, cars, jewelry, clothing and other merchandise at Saturday's five-hour forfeiture auction at Basinger Auction Service, 100 Eastgate Drive. The event was ordered by Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains to help make restitution to a dialysis clinic whose former bookkeeper is accused of embezzling nearly 1.7 million.
A 5-carat diamond ring that went for 41,800 was the most expensive item sold, auctioneer J. Paul Basinger noted. The session netted about 240,000 from the sale of seized goods, he added.
Also on the block
Other big-ticket items sold included two all-terrain vehicles, a 2004 motorcycle, a 2006 Jeep Wrangler, a 1986 Jaguar and a 2005 Ford Mustang. A go-cart, dozens of pieces of jewelry, and a plethora of shoes, fur coats, towels, dresses, sweaters, comforters and shirts also were auctioned off, as were two other vehicles seized by the Mahoning County Drug Task Force, Basinger said.
Most of the merchandise sold at the auction was seized last June from the home of 49-year-old Deborah Toda of Howland, who's charged with money laundering, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and aggravated grand theft in the disappearance of the funds and forgery of 100,000 or more in checks drawn on the North Central Pennsylvania Dialysis Clinic's account. Toda worked in the clinic's Boardman office.
She is in Mahoning County jail and is expected to plead guilty Jan. 30 before Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Toda and her husband, Paul Pollis, 40, who's also been charged in the case, also face a separate civil lawsuit filed by the dialysis group.
At a Jan. 13 Basinger auction related to the same case, roughly 63,000 worth of exercise equipment, tools and other items were auctioned off. Those funds will go toward covering costs of the prosecution investigation of the case, assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Kenneth Cardinal has said.