Upon last check, they had never applied for a city tax I.D. or a
business license. They're probably either doing pawn without a license
or have a front man who has a license and are bankrolling him with
cash and taking theirs at the back in cash. That is the way they
started in Sarasota.
Their home is:
Douglas Blake and Patricia (Hardebeck) Gooch
1341 E. Cozy Street,
Springfield, Missouri, 65807
It is documented that the business is in Doug's wife's name. I'm sure
that way when things get bad, she will file bankruptcy. That's the way
the Sarasota store was set up also, in Vergie Byers name. (The men
NEVER sign any of the memos or any documents, the women do.) Vergie
then filed bankruptcy when they were found in Louisiana. U.S.
Bankruptcy Court-New Orleans, case # 94-13675.
There is a sworn statement that was taken by the Sarasota Sheriff's
office stating Charles Gooch told a witness what he was going to do to
the dealers in Sarasota before it occurred. It included the bankruptcy
in Louisiana. They do business this way because they stated they know
it will be treated as a civil matter and the police won't investigate
While in Sarasota, Douglas Gooch asked a friend if he'd to go down to
his boat unplug the bilge pump at the dock. He said he wanted the boat
to sink. The friend refused. Within the month, the boat sank because
the pump apparently was not hooked up while at the dock. The
insurance company paid him $3500.
They also stop into antique stores. They will pick out a few of the
best items and offer to buy them for a very good price. Then, with the
store owner thinking he has made a good deal, the Goochs will ask if
the owner wants to sell everything agree on a good price. The
Gooch/Byers Gang will pay the owner a small amount of the agreed on
price. They will take all the best items from the store. They say
they will be sending a truck in the next few days to pick up and pay
for the rest. They never return.
When the store owner finally, if ever, gets in contact with Charles,
Vergie, or Doug, they will be told they already got all the items that
were agreed upon. Of course, the money they gave the store owner is
much less than the amount of goods they took. BUT, there is NO WAY for
the shop owner to prove it!!
They also are known to pass off counterfeit Lalique and Tiffany items.
They have signatures put on pieces that look like the real things.
They mostly sell these through auctions because most of the time the
items are not guaranteed that way. They've passed a number of these at
an auction house in Wilson, N.C.
This auction house is, Langston Auction Gallery, Highway 301 South,
Wilson, N.C. 919-237-8224. Owner, Bobby Langston, should be considered
friendly to the subjects.
This couple also said they had gotten an old cowboy hat, and had many
signatures placed on it to look like it had been presented to John
Wayne by his contemporaries. They then sold it at the auction house
in Wilson, N.C.
They said they heard it had been resold at an auction in Ohio to Gene
Autrey, owner of the California Angels, for $25,500.00.
They also said they'd sold three faked Lalique vases at the auction in
Wilson, N.C. The vases were returned by the buyer in California because
THE NAME HAD BEEN MISSPELLED. They had to return $6,000.00 on that
They have also used Dunnings' Auction House in Chicago, Elkins Auction
House in Roanoke,Va., Adno Heller in St. Petersburg, Fl., Charlotte
Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C. and others. It has been alleged that
they move some hot items through an auction house in Huntington, W.V.
Charles loves to trade watches also. They usually have $30,000.00+ in
watches with them. Charles also has a Federal Gun License and he and
Doug have had Auctioneer Licenses in Springfield, Missouri, up to 1987.
It has also been alleged that Vergie Vicknair Byers passed $50,000.00+
of bad checks in the late 80's around Corpus Christi, Texas. I
understand she may still be wanted on this. They also work the
auctions in Texas. They have connections in the New Orleans, La. area.
All the pawn shops there know them.
In fact, in July 1996, jewelry that was stolen in a Sarasota burglary
earlier that year was found in a New Orleans pawn shop. The pawn shop
owner said the jewelry had been placed in a Texas auction by Charles
Gooch and Vergie Byers. That's were he purchased it. But, he also said
they were old friends of his.
The best thing you can do with this info. is to either contact a news
organization to do an investigation or circulate the following photos
to all pawn and antique shops , then set up a sting among the dealers
and let the cops take these people down. They have ruined many lives
and will continue to do the same. Their photos ought to be placed in
every antique store ,auction house and pawn shop in the eastern U.S.
because that's where they operate. Two of them are always on the road.
I understand it is now Charles and Doug.
You probably want to contact Cecil Whitaker also, a Sarasota
businessman. He can be reached at 941-955-0447.
If you need or have additional info there is an honest law enforcement
officer in Sarasota who worked very hard to get these people but to no
avail. His name is Sarasota Sheriffs Detective Garry Ferguson. His
work number is 941-364-4773. He is not aware this is being sent. I
understand he will be retiring soon also.
I have also included some mug shots of Charles Gooch and Vergie Byers.
Hope I have helped save someone else from being victimized by these
Anyone with further information can also contact me at: jf...@gte.net
* Origin: UC (70:3/3)
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