Last week a storage facility in Oakland Park auctioned off several abandoned storage units — one of which belonged to a local consignment store owner who has been accused of ripping off his customers and stealing their goods.
Now their property is gone for good — the unit sold for $400.
Six months ago SFGN published an exposé detailing a laundry list of complaints against Johnny “JT” Lee Thompson and his consignment shop the Peculiar Pelican. His consignors accused him of not paying them for items he’s sold, writing bad checks, and of shoddy record-keeping. Since the article was published more victims have contacted SFGN to share their stories. Several weeks ago SFGN wrote a second article with details of the upcoming auction where his unit would be sold off to the highest bidder. Some of his alleged victims believed their property was inside the storage unit and they felt this would be their last chance to ever see their merchandise again.
Bill Gordon attended the auction hoping to perhaps either stop it, or get some of his property back. Neither happened.
He said Thompson owes him at least $1,700.
Gordon said the auction, which took place at Lighthouse Storage in Oakland Park, 1121 E Commercial Blvd., happened so quickly he didn’t even see who bought the unit.
The potential bidders were not allowed to enter the unit — only peer in from the outside. And since much of the property was boxed up they had no idea whether their items were in there.
The auctioneer told another alleged victim, Ginger Berluti, that a search warrant would be needed to stop the auction.
“None of us got our stuff,” she said. “It was very disheartening.”
Several alleged victims have filed police reports over the past year only to be told it was a civil matter.
“I left a picture of something of my mom’s with the auctioneer to give to the person who bought the unit and said if they found it I would buy it back,” Berluti said.
It’s unlikely she’ll ever be contacted.
Another alleged victim, Pierre LaBelle, who contacted SFGN after reading about the auction found one of his items at the Swap Shop on Sunrise Blvd. two days after the unit was sold.
The seller wanted $50 for a lamp he had consigned with Thompson. He declined to buy it back.
Thompson took LaBelle’s property with promises of money that never materialized.
“I feel very vulnerable. This was pretty low,” the 70-year-old said. “I was counting on extra income — instead I got duped."
According to Gordon, Thompson rented two units at Lighthouse — one of which was already auctioned off in December.
“This is a bad situation for everyone involved, not only did he take advantage of the people in your story, but also us, by not paying his rent for space he has been renting all this time,” James Wofford, a district manager who oversees Lighthouse, wrote to SFGN in an email before the auction took place.
Because Thompson abandoned the storage units, Lighthouse held a public auction to sell off the contents.
When SFGN interviewed Thompson last year he defended himself blaming much of his woes on the pandemic. But, as SFGN detailed in its original story, many of the complaints started long before the pandemic began.