Rhonda Fitzgerald is getting married next fall, and many of the plans are still in the works.
One thing she hadn't counted on: Buying her wedding dress from the federal government.
When an Upper Marlboro woman was convicted in 2013 of embezzling more than $5 million from the nonprofit Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. Marshals Service seized her assets — including a bridal shop she owned.
That left the authorities with 2,000 gowns and other accessories, which the court ordered sold. They are selling them this week at a discount and donating the proceeds back to the nonprofit.
The sale, run by Atlanta-based GSA Auctions, lasts until Friday at the Embassy Suites hotel near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
"I can't believe somebody would be so stupid as to open a bridal shop with stolen funds," she said.
Ephonia M. Green, 46, was sentenced last year to 46 months in prison.
Karen Warrior, regional director of personal property management for the federal General Services Administration, said Green's Upper Marlboro bridal shop — Couture Miss Bridal & Formal — is only the second to be seized. Most forfeitures tend to be houses, cars, yachts and other prized possessions.
The government usually sells items via online auction, she said, but with wedding dresses, a local sale benefiting the nonprofit that had been swindled made more sense.
"We've had several happy brides this morning," she said. She said the dresses were sold at discounts of 40 percent to 60 percent.