West, Menifee Facing Lengthy Prison Terms In Fraud Case

Thursday, February 2, 2006

The former manager of an East Ridge loan office and a former local used car dealer are facing extensive prison time after pleading guilty to fraud.

Billy Collins West and Lucius Menifee entered guilty pleas before Federal Judge Thomas A. Varlan of Knoxville.

West is facing up to 50 years and Menifee 90 years in the case in which prosecutors said involved bogus loans and insurance scams.

Sentencing is May 10 at 11 a.m.

West, who was manager of Pioneer Credit on Ringgold Road, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, mail fraud and identity theft. He faces up to 30 years and a $1 million fine on bank fraud, up to 15 years and a $250,000 fine for mail fraud and up to five years and a $250,000 fine for identity theft.

Menifee pleaded guilty to three counts of bank fraud, carrying up to 30 years each and a fine up to $1 million.

Prosecutor Gary Humble said the fraud dates back as early as June 1996 and continued to Jan. 9, 2001.

He said Pioneer Credit got funding from First Tennessee Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.

He said West set up loans without the knowledge of the named borrowers and also set up bogus loans in which he split proceeds with the borrower. He said collateral was used, including autos and boats, that did not belong to the named borrowers.

He said the loans were often "repaid" by use of other bogus loans.

The prosecutor said false claims on wrecks were submitted to Voyager Insurance Company of Dallas, Tex. He said some of those proceeds were used to cover bogus loans.

He said personal financial information was used in the loans without authorization.

He said West essentially became partners with Menifee at his used car lot.

He said from January 1999 to December 2000 that West had a payroll of $64,747 and had net deposits of $486,738, including $166,415 in cash.

Former Tennessee Sheriff, Associates Arrested By The TBI

A joint investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and investigators with the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has resulted in the indictment and arrest of the former Gibson County Sheriff and several of his former employees on charges including theft and official misconduct.   At the request of 28 th District Attorney General Pro ... (click for more)

Girl, 13, Found Dead At Grandmother's Home At LaFayette

A 13-year-old girl was found dead Monday morning at the home of her grandmother at LaFayette, Ga. Police said the cause of her death is unknown at this time. The body was sent to Atlanta for an autopsy. Her body was discovered at 6:15 a.m. She was staying with her grandmother while her father worked a third-shift job. (click for more)

Why Are We Allowing Poor Architecture And Urban Design Downtown?

   Over the past four decades our fair city has enjoyed striking improvements to our City Center and Northshore areas in large part due to citizen input and the guidance of the former Urban Design Studio. We are now widely recognized as a hotbed of entrepreneurship, neighborhood revitalization and good Urban Design. At the most recent City Council meeting, the leader and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden In December

As the fallen leaves confirm today is the first of December, my monthly walk in life’s garden is more foggy than fun. In much-older times, good children would get a piece of candy on Christmas Day while bad ones would receive a lump of coal. So here are some things that deserve a helping of both: A PIECE OF CANDY to the amazingly few who can spy a nest of mistletoe high in area ... (click for more)

No 1 Connecticut Overwhelms Lady Mocs, 79-31

At least 6,104 basketball enthusiasts got to see what the best women’s college basketball team in the country looks like Monday night at McKenzie Arena. The three-time defending national champion Connecticut Huskies won for the fourth time this season and 41 st game in a row with an impressive 79-31 victory over the Chattanooga Lady Mocs before the seventh-largest crowd in ... (click for more)

Mocs Fall 64-54 At ULM

The Chattanooga Mocs (5-2) five-game-in-10-day road show ended Monday night with a 64-54 loss at ULM (3-2). The squad shot a season-low 35.3 percent (18-51) in the loss. "I felt like we had good shots, especially in the first half,” coach Matt McCall said. “We were getting down the lane and guys were just flat out missing layups. Everyone for the most part was getting in the ... (click for more)