The Martin County Sheriff's Office began auctioning off jewelry from the couple's defunct Wendalyn's Jewelers to raise money to pay off a tax lien, the sheriff's office and a couple who lent them money.

The sale opened at 9 a.m. Interested buyers, including the Clarks, were given a chance to study the jewelry, everything from gold earrings to filigree toe-rings, before the sale began at almost 10 a.m.

Steve Clark, who won several items, was bidding on jewelry with a friend who's trying to get into the jewelry business, he told WPTV. He was bidding with her money, he said.

The sale is the result of a lawsuit filed in February 2005 that claimed the Clarks failed to pay back a $104,000 loan from Tom and Gayle Watts.

The Clarks also face criminal charges of grand theft and insurance fraud for allegedly reporting loose stones missing from their store. Investigators later reported the stones were made into jewelry and sold.

A trial date is pending, prosecutors said. Steve Clark in April requested a public defender in the case, saying he could not afford private representation. Circuit Judge Robert Belanger denied the request, saying Clark could afford to pay an attorney.

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