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.


Home Damaged, Dog Killed In House Fire Friday Afternoon

A home was damaged and a dog was killed on Friday afternoon in a house fire. At  2:30 p.m. , a neighbor called 911 reporting a loud explosion coming from next door. The Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded to 5901 Sams Smith Road and reported heavy smoke coming from the crawl space and fire crawling up the side of the home. Since no one was home, ... (click for more)

3 Arrested In Murder Of Reginald Ballard On Feb. 20

East Ridge police detectives have made several arrests in the Feb. 20 murder of Reginald Ballard. Mr. Ballard was found dead at the Cascades Motel at 3625 Ringgold Road. Mr. Ballard had been shot two times. Detectives, with the assistance of the Chattanooga Police Department and Dayton Police Department developed, located and interviewed witnesses to the crime and its aftermath. ... (click for more)

Proud Of Hometown Boy Turned Global Leader, Bob Corker

Time Magazine has it right.  Not only is Chattanooga’s own U.S. Senator Bob Corker one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” but he is probably now the most prominent leader in the history of our city.   At a time of extreme frustration with Washington and Congress in general, Bob continues to rise above the division and rancor to build consensus and solve ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Leathernecks At Tripoli

I don’t want anybody to get excited, because this happened over 200 years ago, but if you ever wondered why we call our Marines “Leathernecks,” the tale of the Barbary Pirates is pretty intriguing. It is a great rainy-day read and proof America’s problems with Muslim terrorists are hardly new. Around 1800 the people who lived on what was called the Barbary Coast of North Africa ... (click for more)

Brewer Selected New East Ridge Girls Basketball Coach

(Story has been updated) Blaine Brewer admitted his becoming a head coach at East Ridge, or any other place for that matter, is ahead of schedule. “It certainly has happened quicker than I thought it would,” the 24-year-old Brewer said Friday. “I’m really excited though.” Brewer, who is from Memphis and attended Arlington High School where he played basketball and ... (click for more)

McClendon, Ex-Rhea Assistant, Joins Lyness' Lady Trojans Staff

Cheryl McClendon, an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Rhea County the past eight years, has been hired for a similar job at Soddy-Daisy High School, head coach Drew Lyness said Friday afternoon. McClendon has taught at Soddy-Daisy for the last 13 years and served as one of Rhea County coach Shane Johnston’s assistants for almost a decade. Johnston has resigned at Rhea County ... (click for more)