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Sale of Flight leaves Neill victims with $0

The sale of old Flight Wood Grill space back to its original owner closed last week, making the high-profile Main Street property available for lease.

The ground floor and loft space in the historic State Trust Bank building at 401 N. Main St. that had been owned by disbarred attorney Sam Neill sold for $406,650 in a court-ordered transaction. The result brought bad news for victims of Neill's trust fund thefts.
Neill had offered the Flight property as restitution for the Irene Meinke trust beneficiaries. But after a primary mortgage and other liens were paid, the short sale left nothing for the Meinke victims.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge George R. Hodges authorized the sale to Tom Fazio's TJF Enterprises, which has offices on the top floor of the historic State Trust building. The judge's order spelled out that $322,000 would go to TDBank, the first mortgage holder; $24,350 to the real estate broker, Whitney Commercial; $5,900 in past due fees to the building condo association; $22,000 to the bankruptcy trustee, Langdon M. Cooper of Gastonia; and $12,500 "as a carveout to the trustee for the bankruptcy estate." The settlement also paid outstanding property taxes of $16,924.
Neill, who pleaded guilty a year ago in federal court to one count of tax evasion, is scheduled to appear for sentencing at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Asheville before Judge Martin Reidinger. He is scheduled to appear in Henderson County Superior Court the next day to face sentencing on five charges of embezzlement $3 million from trust funds. The state charges carry a total maximum penalty of 84 years in prison.