Victims Speak Out After Compass Academy Placed On Auction Block - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Victims Speak Out After Compass Academy Placed On Auction Block

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Aiken County, SC -

Edward Lawrence had been investing through Brooks financial for several years when he first heard about the Brooks' brainchild-- Compass Academy:

"When you heard Tracy talk and she was so enthusiastic about the school, you couldn't help but get enthusiastic yourself," Lawrence says, "you thought you were doing the right thing."

He saw it as a chance to do more than make money, to make a difference in children's lives.

"It seemed perfect, we went to the groundbreaking," he remembers.

When allegations emerged about the Brooks' mismanaging money, many investors stood by them, insisting that the school needed to open to both helps kids and be sure investors' money wasn't a sunk cost, even speaking out in court.

"They were assuring us everything would be fine, which couldn't be further from the truth," Lawrence says.

Now he and dozens of investors are out of money, mostly retirement funds, ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's enough to wake up at two o'clock in the morning and to not be able to go back to sleep and what a total waste, it's gone," he says.

Lawrence says he and his family will be okay, relatively: He lost around a quarter of his retirement, while others lost it all.

"One [retiree] is working at Wal-Mart now because they lost so much that they can't make a go of it with what they have left," he says.

What's left: The 53,000 square foot building now on the auction block.  While investors put nearly $6 million in, and realtors say they want to recoup that investment:

"It's gone, if we get 10 cents on the dollar we'll be lucky.  The opening bid is going to be $500,000. Take out receiver and accounting, we'll probably get five or six percent on the dollar if we're lucky, I don't expect to get anything."

The realtor in charge says he hears their hurt and is working to ensure they get something, but they won't know what until someone says "sold" on October 26th.  The money from that auction will go to paying back investors:  You can learn about the property here.

Next week, we'll share more with that realtor about the property and what they hope to achieve to help investors.

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