YOUNGSTOWN - The front portion of Ponderosa Park was sold for $150,000, the minimum bid, during a sheriff's auction on Tuesday.
But the sale came during a second auction because the highest bidder failed to produce the correct amount of money. A second auction was immediately held at the Mahoning County courthouse.
The bidding for the 45.45-acre section started at $150,000 and stood at $200,100 after Equity Portfolio, LLC, Ltd., representing the mortgage holder and high bidder on the back section of the park in a March auction, placed the ninth bid between the two bidders.
The other bidder, an undisclosed third party, followed each $100-incremental bid by Equity Portfolio with stepped increases of $9,900, finishing each round with a $10,000 increase.
The bidding reached $200,100 when the undisclosed bidder upped it by $49,900 to secure the winning bid at $250,000.
But there was a problem with the deposit and attorney Gary Rosati, representing Mahoning County as the seller, said the "purchaser didn't have the deposit."
Rosati explained the winning bidder had a certified check in the amount of $15,000 which was 10 percent of the minimum bid, or two-thirds of the appraised value of $225,000.
He said the check should have been in the amount of $22,500 or 10 percent of the appraised value, leaving the bidder $7,500 short.
Before the auction bidders were advised they "must have 10 percent of the appraised value" to place on deposit if they won and an auction information sheet said "deposits are now required from both plaintiffs and third party purchasers at the time of the sale."
In underlined all-capital letters the sheet says, "The deposit for third party purchasers is 10 percent of the appraised value."
Rosati said he had to consult with his client, the Mahoning County treasurer, "to see if we're going to object to the procedure ... the $15,000 is 10 percent of the two-thirds appraised value and was rejected because he should have had a check for $22,500 or 10 percent of the appraised value."
He continued, "The irregularities during the sale, the original high bidder didn't have the proper deposit (and) I would have accepted, I was willing to go with the next-highest bid which was $200,100. I thought that would have been proper under the circumstances."
Rosati added, "I question whether the sheriff could reject it. Having a bad bidder, does the next highest bid have control? The sheriff could reject the sale, but there's a question of whether the bidding could be started over from scratch."
The bidder representing the undisclosed client left the building in a hurry after the amount of the check was rejected.
The county is auctioning the Ponderosa property to recoup more than $534,000 in delinquent property taxes dating to 1989.
The 141-acre site is being auction in three parcels.
Last March, Equity Portfolio, a Warren company, placed the top bid of $700,000 on the 68.37-acre rear tract in that auction. That was much higher than the appraised value of $144,000, mainly due to the oil and gas potential.
A third middle section consisting of the multi-deeded campgrounds won't be ready for auction for two years, Rosati said.