Auction house fails to pay

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. -- Russell Offutt has collected a lot during his lifetime. But, after all of that collecting, he says it's time to clear out his house and get rid of some of those items.

"Someone mentioned the idea of possibly auctioning it all off instead of selling it, and I thought that was a pretty good idea," Offutt said.

So, Offutt rounded up a lot of his stuff and took the items to a place called the East Valley Auction House located in Mesa. Offutt said the items he was selling would get some pretty good money.

"I turned over a huge collection of Texaco collectibles -- Texaco and NASCAR racecars," Offutt explained.

Offutt said he left all of his collectibles with Kevin Evans, who runs East Valley Auction House.

After auctioning off all of Offutt's collectibles, Evans turned over some papers to Offutt indicating that he owed Offutt around $1,000 for the sale. However, that was in early spring and Offutt hasn't seen any of his money.

"He's disappeared is what it boils down to," Offutt said.

3 On Your Side got involved, but what we found did not look promising. The East Valley Auction House was completely shut down and cleaned out. 

A note on the door dated from July makes a bold promise to pay people like Offutt -- people who handed over precious items to sell and never received a dime.

"I needed that money for medical reasons, more than anything else," Offutt explained.

It turns out the auction industry is pretty close-knit, so when we talked to other auction houses in the area, they all knew about Evans and the money he owes people.

Tim Coon and his family own a local auction house and are well aware of Evans and the black eye Coon said he's given the industry.

Coon told 3 On Your Side that people come to his auction house almost every day wanting information about Evans.

"Oh yeah, they are pretty upset," Coon said. "They want to know where he lives and what he drives. They want all of that kind of information."

As for Offutt, he doesn't really have a kind word to say about Evans, but the Vietnam vet does have a message for him.

"Point blank, you owe me money and I want to be paid," Offutt said.

Several people in the auction industry tell me Evans is supposed to be opening up another auction house very soon. If he does, or if I finally track him down, I'll do a follow-up report.