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Bidder of Vehicle Storage building, a no-show in city, is wanted in Florida


As the city waits to hear by the end of the day today whether the woman who successfully bid on the former Fort Drum Vehicle Storage warehouse will be able to close on the purchase, Ruby C. “Charlene” Williams is contending with legal problems of her own.

Ms. Williams, who submitted the winning bid for the building on West Main Street at a public auction in October with a $12,500 deposit but has since failed to communicate with the city, is wanted in the state of Florida.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Department in Florida, there is a warrant for her arrest for violating probation. In 2005, she pleaded no contest to felony counts of third-degree grand theft and distributing a forged instrument. According to court documents, the sheriff’s department has been seeking her whereabouts since 2006. No details about the crimes or the probation violation were provided in the court documents.

She has had several aliases, including Ruby Charlene Harris, Ruby Brown and Ruby Jackson, according to the documents.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham and Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith learned of her legal troubles after council members agreed last week to give her an extension for the closing.

After hearing that Ms. Williams was also evicted from her rental home several days ago, they said Monday night that they do not expect that she will end up purchasing the warehouse at 753 Rear W. Main St. The LeRay Town Court confirmed that she was evicted, but did not provide any details of the civil action.

Last week, the Watertown City Council agreed to grant her a one-week extension to close on the property after she missed a Nov. 16 deadline to do so. She told the Times that she missed it because she was suffering from walking pneumonia.

“I don’t know about walking pneumonia but she apparently walked out of the county,” Mr. Smith said. “She’s nowhere to be found.”

On Monday, Ms. Williams, the chief financial officer for the vehicle storage company, did not return a reporter’s phone calls to get a comment about the closing. City Comptroller James E. Mills has not heard a word from her in weeks about the situation.

City officials are perplexed that she put down the $12,500 deposit for the warehouse, which she will lose if she does not finalize the deal by 5 p.m. today. If she fails to meet the deadline, the city will look for other offers through a second public auction, the mayor said.

At an Oct. 10 public auction, Ms. Williams submitted a high bid of $125,000 for the warehouse, which previously housed about 90 vehicles for the company until it was lost to back taxes.

The company was formed in 2005 to serve deploying soldiers in need of a place to store their vehicles. The owners, JoAnn Sanchez-Norquist and John S. Norquist, lost the building after failing to pay $17,776.37 in back taxes.

Recently, the Watertown Local Development Corp. decided to start collection procedures against the Fort Drum Vehicle Storage company for being delinquent on a $40,000 loan taken out to help form the company. The owners still owe $28,456 and have not made a payment since July.

County Attorney David J. Paulsen said the Norquists also continue to owe $92,443 in back taxes on five properties they own in the county.

JoAnn Sanchez-Norquist and John S. Norquist could be reached for comment. He had a phone line that was out of order. She did not have a telephone listing.

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