Pubdate: Thu, 01 Jul 1999
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: Lynn Fredricksen


Peter C. Ausnit, who in the past bought an 18-wheeler, a Ferrari and a
gazebo the same way, Wednesday added a Guilford house seized by the feds
from a family that benefited from the drug trade to his list of auction

The Greenwich retiree was one of about 200 who attended two government
auctions Wednesday of the Monaco family's properties in Guilford and
Branford. The single-family houses brought a combined $460,000, which
officials said will be deposited in the U.S.

Treasury Department Asset Forfeiture Fund to support crime-fighting across
the nation.

"It's not a bargain, but it's a fair deal," said Ausnit, who paid $196,000
for the 1,820-square-foot colonial-style house and 0.94 acre lot at 465
Durham Road in Guilford.

The house was owned by David Monaco, the brother of convicted drug
trafficker James Monaco, and was built with proceeds of the drug operation,
federal authorities said.

When asked whether he had found the safe rumored to be hidden in the garage,
Ausnit joked, "No, I haven't. But if you find it, let me know."

Sources said the safe, used in the Monaco family's multimillion-dollar
money-laundering operation, had been filled in and sealed.

James "Jimmy" Monaco, 50, is serving a 55-year sentence in Illinois on
federal drug trafficking charges from Florida.

He is said to have recruited his parents, James, 79, and Mary, 72, his
brother and a sister in his plan to conceal more than $2 million in profits
from his drug importing and distribution racket.

James Monaco is jailed at Fort Dix, N.J. His wife is at the women's prison
in Virginia where her daughter Linda DeMaio is being held.

David Monaco is serving time at a minimum-security prison in Pennsylvania.

At both auctions, cars lined both sides of the street. The lawns were
crowded with bidders and those who came to watch.

Auctioneer Robert Glass attempted to start the bidding on the Guilford
property at $200,000, but someone shouted an offer of $125,000.

From there the bidding jumped to $150,000 and $175,000.

When it reached $185,000, it increased in $1,000 increments until there were
none who wanted to challenge Ausnit's bid.

"I intend to live here," Ausnit said. "Guilford is a lovely town. This has
the feel of a mini-estate.

With the trees and the Thermo-pane windows, you can't hear any noise from
the road. It's very secluded."

The house has a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace, main level laundry
facilities and oak cabinets in the kitchen. The 1997 tax bill was $4,221.

The equally secluded 1,964-square-foot ranch-style house at 22 Indian Woods
Road, Branford, also generated a lot of interest as the curious wandered
through it prior to the auction.

"I'd do something about this wallpaper. There are flowers everywhere," said
one woman, who declined to give her name. "But I like that there are two

She commented that area houses seem to be bringing higher prices now that a
chicken farm down the street has been removed.

The spacious brick house, on a half-acre lot, has a flagstone foyer, vaulted
ceiling and pickled wood cabinetry. It sold for $264,000 after a bidding war
between a young man and a young woman.

The opening bid was $180,000, but bidding didn't start to go back and forth
between the two until it reached $230,000. From there, it increased in
$1,000 and $2,000 increments until the young man finally gave up and it was
sold to the woman for $264,000.

The 1997 tax bill on the property was $3,827.

Unlike Ausnit, the young woman declined to give her name or where she was
from. A Treasury Department official said the new owner's name would not be
immediately available.

When asked whether he had any apprehensions about the history of the house
he bought, Ausnit replied, "Many people are hurt justly and many are hurt
unjustly. There were two 70-year-old people whose son dealt drugs. I heard
the kid is adopted.

I don't see the logic there."

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