The Albert Lea Abstract Co. building occupies 201-205 S. Washington Ave. A sign at the corner indicates the building is for sale at auction.com. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

A.L. Abstract building to be auctioned

Published 9:20am Thursday, October 25, 2012

The building of the business that a former Freeborn County commissioner drove into the ground with a gambling habit is slated to be auctioned in mid-November.

Albert Lea Abstract Co.’s building, 201-205 Washington Ave., is featured on auction.com with a starting bid of $50,000. It is a 2,710-square-foot vacant building with a 2,782-square-foot basement. Built in 1948, it occupies a downtown lot of 0.09 acres.

Craig Hoium is the real estate agent, working for Ron Holton Realty. The building is only for sale through auction.com. At this point, someone cannot just walk into the agency and seek to buy it but they can request a tour of the interior prior to the auction date.

The bidding starts Nov. 13 and ends Nov. 15.

The Freeborn County Assessor’s Office records list Sacramento, Calif.-based Bank of the West as the present owner of the building.

Hoium said Holton Realty had been in contact with Bank of the West about assisting and marketing the property. The bank decided to sell the property on auction.com, with Ron Holton Realty making people aware of the sale.

“It will be good to get rid of another vacant storefront,” Hoium said. “That’s a plus.”

Linda Tuttle, who resigned as a county commissioner on Aug. 1, 2010, amid allegations of theft, was sentenced Aug. 30, 2011, in U.S. District Court to 3 1/2 years in federal prison for stealing more than $1 million from escrow accounts of her business, Albert Lea Abstract Co., and diverting them to her own purposes, much of which went to pursue a gambling addiction at an Iowa casino.

Tuttle, 61, is serving her sentence at a women’s prison in Alderson, W.Va. She pleaded guilty in April 2011 to one count of wire fraud, a felony, as part of a plea agreement between her lawyer and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The business closed in June 2010 when state and city investigators parked a U-Haul van out front and served a search warrant, taking many of her files and computers. The business never reopened, and nearly all of her clients were unable to recoup their losses.

As part of her sentence, Judge David S. Doty ordered Tuttle, whose full name is Linda K. Tuttle-Olson, to pay full restitution of $1.32 million to a reported 50 victims, though it is unclear how she would be able to do that.

The Freeborn County Assessor’s Office lists the 2012 assessed value of the building and land at $88,500, with a taxable value of $85,900. Appraised value and market value often are higher than assessed value.

The main level is constructed as two business spaces, with a vestibule and space to the left or to the right. Albert Lea Abstract Co. had occupied both the storefronts.

The basement, Hoium said, is mostly open for storage and filing.

“The building is very well constructed and in good shape,” Hoium said.