Given the setting and that he’s never played auctioneer, Oxford County Chief Deputy Hart Daley intends to play it conservative when he sells a Venezuelan tycoon’s waterfront cabin later this summer.

“I will not be rapid-fire auctioneering,” Daley said. 

Sworn to serve and uphold the law, county sheriffs, just one of a handful of positions created under the state’s constitution, are invested with powers outside their daily routine. 

Like holding an auction. 

But this June the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office will do just that, exercising a little-used part of the law to sell to the highest bidder a cabin on Kezar Lake in Lovell valued at $345,000. 

Sheriff Wayne Gallant said the auction is the first he’s seen in almost a decade. 

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“I find it unique. It’s a different role that shows the duties of the sheriff,” Gallant said. 

Known as a sheriff’s sale, the auction follows a court order to seize and liquidate unit 13 on Severance Lodge Road owned by Richard Boulton, who dating back to 2011, owes more than $18,500 in association and legal fees to the Severance Lodge Club.

Located on Kezar Lake — once named as one of the three most beautiful by National Geographic — Severance Lodge Club dates back to the 1800s, when it was a popular hunting and fishing destination and has since evolved into a private community of vacation homes on 60 forested acres.

In April, the sheriff’s office seized Boulton’s property following a writ of execution issued in February by Oxford County Superior Court.  

The order instructs Gallant to auction the property so the club can recuperate its uncollected dues used to pay for regular maintenance and to fund amenities. Bidding will begin at $18,511, the amount in unpaid dues owed. Proceeds generated will be credited to sheriff’s department for legal fees and after the deductions, the remainder will be issued to Boulton. 

Listings provided in court documents indicate the property was on the market for $499,000 several years ago, though properties sold at sheriff’s sales can go for less than their value. 

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The property is sold as ‘buyer beware.’ For a year after the sale date, Boulton retains the right to reclaim the property. After that, the winning bidder must pay several thousands of dollars in back-taxes owed to the town to get a clear deed title. 

Gallant thought the auction would interest a small number of neighbors who have already met the association’s membership requirements. 

According to court documents, Boulton, whose last known address was in Caracas, Venezuela, has neither opposed nor acknowledged the litigation, leading the court to enter the judgment in his absence.

Sheriffs around the state said organizing public auctions are peculiar, even rare.

In Aroostook County, Sheriff Darrell O. Crandall said his deputies know of only one in the past 26 years. In February, a sale of a commercial property in Richmond  was canceled after the owner was able to repay, Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel A. Merry said. 

Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett had the only other active sale, a small piece of property on Damariscotta Lake. In the past ten years, Brackett said they’ve had just two auctions — one for a lobster boat and a plane. 

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In almost every case, sheriffs said they piled on extra research to ensure they understood the law. 

“We were aware of the provision. However, we had not undertaken a sheriff’s sale under the current administration, so it’s all new to us,” Daley said. 

On a lake where multi-million dollar homes are not unusual on its many private roads, Boulton’s story gives insight into some of the most wealthy who flock to the state for summer vacation.

In 2002, Boulton, whose family owned airline company Avensa and one of the country’s richest industrialists, was ransomed for $460,000 after being held hostage by paramilitary groups for two years, according to the Associated Press and British Broadcasting Company articles.

A group with ties to the countries military and Columbia’s police force abducted Boulton, an airline executive and commercial pilot, on his own plane.

In addition, Boulton, whose wife won Miss Venezuela in 1996, lists his mailing address with the town at a luxury apartment in Manhattan, N.Y., three blocks from Central Park. 

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A message left at the Severance Lodge Club were not returned. Messages to their attorney, Peter Malia Jr., were not returned. Stephen Anderson, the club’s president, declined to comment.  

Attempts to reach Boulton were unsuccessful.

A man at the clubhouse Sunday declined to identify which of the cabins was at the center of the litigation.

“These people work hard for their money and deserve their privacy. They’re at the top of the food chain,” he said.

The auction will be held on June 17 at 10 a.m. at the lodge’s clubhouse. 

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