ALTOONA, FL-With bidding starting at $500,000 ($7,463 per acre; 17 cents per sf), Human Services Associates of Orlando outlasted a dozen buyers with a winning bid of $1.15 million or $17,164 per acre (39 cents per sf) for Lake County Boys Ranch.

The property in this rural area, 35 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando, was a high-profile foster care facility that had operated for 32 consecutive years until a Medicaid fraud charge shut down the business 18 months ago.

Human Services Associates and DISC Village of Tallahassee, FL plan to reopen the ranch at an undetermined date in 2002. Still to be resolved, however, are the property’s $1.5 million in unpaid loans to the Internal Revenue Service, First National Bank of Mount Dora and other unsecured creditors. The ranch also owes $418,000 to the state in unpaid taxes and unemployment compensation, according to the Florida Attorney General’s office.

Karlin Daniel & Associates Inc. of Stuart, FL handled the auction and brought in a total $1.35 million from the sale of the ranch, various vehicles and maintenance equipment.

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