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Joe Johnson’s Crime Vault: Auctioning Cult Leader’s Athens Mansion

155 Mansfield Court, Athens, Ga.

This story of mine was run by Morris News Service on August 18, 2005 and was published nationally by various publications.

By Joe Johnson

The mansion's rank odor is as foul as the unspeakable deeds done there when occupied by a religious sect leader now serving a 137-year prison sentence on federal child molestation and racketeering charges.

Yet at least a half-dozen people showed up to inspect the palatial nine-bedroom house at 155 Mansfield Court in west Athens once owned by Dwight "Malachi" York.

The U.S. Marshals Service is auctioning the house, one of two properties seized after Mr. York's conviction in January 2004.No one has lived in the mansion for three years, since Mr. York's arrest in May 2002.

Two prospective buyers who inspected the property on Friday - Brad Stephens, a Duluth home builder, and David Felt, an Athens attorney - were considering a bid as partners to repair the mansion and resell it for a profit.

The size of the 8,309-square-foot house might scare away buyers more than the stigma of its previous owner, Mr. Stephens said. "I build $500,000 spec houses, but this place makes me a little nervous - it's just so big," he said. "How would you use up all this space?

Mr. Felt agreed that finding a buyer might be difficult."You'd need to find someone famous, like an Atlanta professional athlete who wants to be on MTV Cribs," the real-estate attorney said. The property includes 6 bathrooms and a three-car garage in the main house, along with a guest house and a swimming pool with pool house.As mansions come, it is a definite fixer-upper, with peeling wallpaper, unhinged interior doors, unkempt landscaping and the pervasive odor of mildew. The minimum bid during the online auction, which closed Wednesday at 3 p.m., was $420,000. As of late Tuesday afternoon, auctioneers had only two bids, the latest a $445,000 offer for the house Mr. York bought in 1998 for $528,000.

According to the Marshals Service, the house is assessed at $840,000.

Mr. York, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., started the sect the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors in New York City in the late 1960s. The group moved to Georgia in 1993, with about 500 of Mr. York's followers settling on a 476-acre compound in Eatonton.In addition to the Mansfield Court property, Mr. York bought the former Ideal Amusements building on West Broad Street in Athens for $385,000.The government also seized the Eatonton compound, valued at about $1 million, and sold it in June to an undisclosed buyer.

According to authorities, Mr. York regularly had sex with more than a dozen children at both sites.

Mr. York, now 60, was convicted in January 2004 in U.S. District Court in Macon on charges of conspiracy, racketeering, transporting minors for unlawful sex and tax evasion, among other crimes. He is in a special housing unit of the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan.

From Wikipedia: Dwight York, also known as Malachi Z. York, Issa Al Haadi Al Mahdi, et alii, is an author, black supremacist leader, musician, and convicted child molester, who founded various esoteric fraternal orders and black nationalist groups collectively referred to as Nuwaubians.York and the Nuwaubians came under increased government scrutiny in the early 1990s after they built Tama-Re (, an ancient Egyptian-themed "city" featuring pyramids, temples, and living quarters for hundreds of his followers, in Putnam County, Georgia. He was arrested in May 2002, charged with over 100 counts of child molestation and other charges, and was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to 135 years in prison.

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