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Auction Will Help Victims Of $43 Million Investment Scheme

Posted at 5:34 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-25 19:26:43-04

An auction will be held in White County to liquidate a tractor supply business involved in a $43 million Ponzi scheme. 

The U.S. Marshals Service will auction off all of the assets that belonged to the owner of Gentry Brothers Tractor Supply in Sparta. 

On Friday, hundreds of people registered and previewed all of the auction items from vehicles to farming equipment at the location of the former business.  

The owner, 40-year-old Jeffery Gentry, pled guilty on charges of wire fraud and money laundering in early August. 

"It's disturbing it happened because he hurt a lot of people in Sparta," Mickey Greene, a Sparta resident, said as he walked around to view the items. 

Federal prosecutors said he tricked more than 50 of his customers, family, and friends to invest in what turned out to be a scheme. 

"He was well known in the community and was a trusted member of the area," Deputy U.S. Marshal Danny Shelton told NewsChannel 5. 

He promised investors they would receive high returns on contracts he was bidding on and winning in order to supply farm equipment.

"The reality was that Gentry knew there were no state contracts and no equipment had been or ever would be purchased with investor funds," Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jack Smith said in a press conference earlier in August. "He admitted that he never intended to invest the funds promised, but instead use the money to subsidize his lifestyle and amass a worth of substantial amount of money, including numerous tracts of real estate and vehicles."

Officials said there was a total of $10 million in financial losses. 

More than 4,000 items will be auctioned off to raise money for the victims. 

"We hope it's very successful. The proceeds will go into an account, and the US Attorneys Office will determine how much will go to each victim," Shelton added.

The auction has been scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Saturday at Gentry Tractor Supply at 759 Millers Point Road in Sparta. A public preview will continue on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. 

Click on this link to learn more. 

Gentry will be sentenced in November.