River Falls acquires transferred property

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 3, 2015

Some seven years after the former River Falls town property was illegally transferred, the town is once again in possession of the property.

District Attorney Walt Merrell said Thursday that the deed was delivered on Wednesday.

“We hand delivered it to Mayor Patricia Gunter,” he said.

Gunter confirmed that she did receive it.

“I still have to record the deed,” she said. “And we need to get Shane Cook to clean it up for us.”

Gunter said she needed to discuss with the town council what to do with the property and seek clarification from the Alabama League of Municipalities and the town’s attorney on what is legal for them to do.

Gunter said she is pleased to have the property back.

“Our residents have asked me when we were getting it back,” she said. “So, it’s nice to be able to tell them we have it.”

The property was illegally transferred by then mayor Mary Hixon to Richard Moss, a man who lived with her at the time.

The illegal transfer of the Sunnyside Street property was uncovered by the Star-News, and it was at the heart of a criminal investigation that led to the arrests of Moss and Hixon.

In August 2012, a majority of the then-sitting River Falls Town Council members told the Star-News they never voted in 2008 to sell the town’s former city hall property to Moss. The Star-News found probate records transferring the property to Moss.

Hixon, who was in her 90s, passed away last year.

She pleaded guilty in October 2012 to the theft of more than $200,000 in town funds over three years, which included $90,000 in salaries paid to three people who never worked for the town, including Moss.

She was sentence to probation and ordered to pay restitution to River Falls.

Moss pleaded guilty in May to three counts of theft of property I and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on each count, to be served concurrently.

Moss remains free on bond pending the outcome of a probation hearing in September.

Merrell said Thursday he is working to get the town’s money back.