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.


At Least 1 Person Killed In I-75 Wreck Near Athens, Tn.

At least one person was killed in a wreck on I-75 northbound near Athens, Tn., early Wednesday afternoon. The wreck happened around 1:20 p.m. near mile marker 48. A vehicle was on fire with the driver inside when emergency personnel arrived. A section of the median grass also caught fire. (click for more)

Corker Co-Sponsors Legislation To Defund Planned Parenthood

Senator Bob Corker on Wednesday co-sponsored legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. The bill ( S.1881 ), introduced by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.), follows the release of disturbing video footage showing Planned Parenthood’s role in harvesting the organs of unborn babies. “Like so many Tennesseans, I am deeply disturbed ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Strong

The hearts, minds and prayers of Tennesseans, and of the entire nation, have been turned toward Chattanooga this month.  We are sickened and saddened by the senseless tragedy, and we grieve for the families of the five service members who were killed, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Could Obama Win Again?

When President Barack Obama spoke to the African Union yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he made a pretty brash statement: “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he told the African leaders. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t.” While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I don’t think that’s true. Obviously, term limits keep Obama from running, but as I sit ... (click for more)

Ooltewah, Rhea Co. Picked To Win Region 4-5A Football

The Ooltewah Owls and the Rhea County Golden Eagles both advanced to the Class 5-A football playoffs last fall with Ooltewah getting eliminated by the Golden Eagles in the second round. Both teams entered that contest unbeaten, but Rhea County routed the Owls by a 47-14 final to advance. Rhea County went on to with 13 straight games before getting beat in the semis by ... (click for more)

Owls, Eagles Look Back Differently At 2014 Showdown

For the first time since they played in the second round of the 2014 Class AAA state football playoffs, a few Ooltewah and Rhea County players were together Wednesday at the Region 4-5A media day at The Bridge in Ooltewah. The Owls and Eagles, obviously, have polar-opposite thoughts on last year’s second round game in Evensville on a brutally cold Friday night. That’s because ... (click for more)