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State, not Amistad creditors, will be paid from proceeds of sale of ship

It appears the long list of businesses, individuals and organizations that are owed more than $2.2 million by the now defunct Amistad America will not be getting any of their money back.

Superior Court Judge Antonio Robaina signed an order Tuesday that directs receiver Kate Sachs to distribute the $315,000 from the upcoming sale of the ship to Discovering Amistad, to the state Department of Economic and Economic Development.

In addition, he said Staci Detwiller, who is listed as programs manager for the ship's former owner, Amistad America, will be paid for wages and benefits for the three months before the request for receivership was filed by the state in August of 2104.

Robaina wrote in his decision that DECD has funded the maintenance and upkeep of the ship during the court-ordered receivership and expended in excess of $315,000.

DECD estimates that it will have spent $331,747 by Oct. 31.

He ordered Sachs to distribute the $315,000 to DECD within two days of the sale, which is expected to take place during the first week of November.

Robaina concluded that, as there are no other funds available for distribution, the pre-receivership claims procedure is now terminated.

Last month, the state Bond Commission approved a proposal to award a $620,000 grant to Discovering Amistad, a newly formed nonprofit organization.

The funding is intended to enable the organization to purchase the historic ship and make repairs to allow it to retain its Coast Guard certification.

The ship spent this past summer in New London and is now at Mystic Seaport for the winter.

After state Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, began questioning how the financially troubled Amistad America spent $9 million in state funding and its failure to pay back the $2.2 million in debts it owes to small businesses the state audited the organization and then took control of the ship in August of 2014.

The schooner is a replica of the ship of the same name that was commandeered by its African captives off the coast of Cuba in 1839.

Captured off Montauk, N.Y., the ship was brought to New London and the captives were taken to New Haven, where they were held for trial and eventually set free.

Twitter: @joewojtas


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