St. Mary

Aug 29, 2014 11:45 AM by KATC

Couple sues St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office over claims of unfair bidding

A St. Mary Parish couple is suing the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office and another resident over claims of unfair bidding in a judicial property sale.

According to a lawsuit filed by Wade Guillotte and his wife Angela, the couple went to the St. Mary Parish Courthouse in May 2013 to bid on property that was valued at $2,300 and being sold through a sheriff's office judicial sale.

While the couple waited in the courthouse lobby, Frank Smith Jr. allegedly walked into the building and began talking to the sheriff's auctioneer, Catherine Washington.

The Guillottes claim in the lawsuit that Washington approached them after speaking with Smith and asked the couple how much cash they had. The Guillottes then went into another room with Washington and counted $6,000 in cash.

When the bidding started, Washington reportedly bid $6,000 very quickly, at which point Washington told the Guillottes they could not bid any higher than $6,000.

The property in question was sold to Smith for $6,000, an action the Guillottes claim was an intentional breach in bidding practices.

According to the lawsuit, the first floor of the courthouse has surveillance footage that is typically kept for 90 days. The Guillottes claim that they requested video footage within 30 days, but were told that the footage had been erased.

The lawsuit also alleges that Washington and Smith are somehow related, and that Washington abused her power as auctioneer to steer the bidding to Smith.

Guillotte and his wife are asking a judge to nullify the sale.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Traci Landry said the sheriff's office cannot comment on pending litigation.

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