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.


Juan Lopez, 19, Seriously Injured In "Car Surfing" Accident

Juan Lopez, 19, was seriously injured in a "car surfing" accident in Whitfield County. The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office responded on Thursday at approximately 9:34 p.m., to a serious injury incident in a subdivision off Cleveland Highway. Upon arriving on Beulah Drive, the responding officer found Miguel Gomez sitting in the middle of the road holding Mr. Lopez, who ... (click for more)

TBI Hosts Drug Take-Back Day On Saturday

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation joins the Drug Enforcement Administration for a program  this Saturday  that gives Tennesseans a chance to rid their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription pills. From  10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  this Saturday, residents can drop off pills or patches to be disposed of at locations all across ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response (2)

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: County Commissioners Not Getting Bang For Their School Bucks

The Hamilton County School Board passed a balanced budget to present to the County Commission at a Special Called Meeting on Thursday night. They also attached a prioritized list of $24.5 million in critical needs for the County Commission to consider that will never see the light of day. The long and short of it is easy to see -- the County Commissioners have had enough. It ... (click for more)

Sales' Grand Slam Leads Lady Owls To 6-2 Comeback Win

Cheyenne Sales came close to hitting two home runs on Tuesday. She atoned for those close calls a day later with a grand slam in a five-run fourth inning and powered Ooltewah to a 6-2 victory over gritty East Hamilton in District 5-3A softball action at Jim Lovell Field. “That’s the first grand slam I’ve hit this season,” said Sales, who finished with five RBIs. “The pitch ... (click for more)

Prep Tennis: Hixson Girls, Red Bank Boys Win District Titles

Playing for the District 6 A-AA tennis title, it came down to No.2 doubles with the overall match tied at 4 all. Hixson’s Amy Carranza and Sydney Buckner defeated Grace Brown and Cheyenne Cummings, of Red Bank, 8-6, Thursday at the Hixson Rec Center courts to give the host Wildcats the district championship, 5-4, for the second straight year and fourth title in five years. ... (click for more)