Joe Prebul Trial Starts Monday Morning

His Chattanooga Attorney Expects Him To Be Exonerated

Friday, November 20, 2009

The trial of former Chattanooga auto dealer Joe Prebul in New York City on federal wire fraud charges starts Monday morning.

A jury is expected to be selected on Monday morning and opening statements and testimony begin on Monday afternoon.

The first witness is expected to be Danny Bensusan, Prebul's brother-in-law, who is alleging that he transferred millions of dollars to Chattanooga to be invested. He said he later learned that Prebul had used much of the money to prop up his failing auto dealerships and for a lavish personal lifestyle.

Chattanooga attorney Tom Ray, who will be seated at the defense table, said he expects Prebul to be exonerated.

He said, "I don't think there is a devious bone in his body. I think this was all a misunderstanding. This case is very unfortunate for everyone concerned."

He said the facts of the case "are like a prism. You hold it up to the light and it looks one way. You turn it and it looks another way."

There will be additional testimony on Tuesday, then an adjournment for the Thanksgiving holidays.

The trial will resume the following Monday.

The main defense lawyers are Maurice Sercarz, who is also a Fordham University law professor, and his associate, Diane Ferrone.

Attorney Ray, who is representing Prebul in his personal bankruptcy, will sit at the defense table because of his intimate knowledge of the Prebul personal and business transactions.

Judge William Pauley III will oversee the trial.

Prebul, 48, of Signal Mountain faces 11 counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud. Each of the counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of the greater of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

A criminal complaint had been filed against him Feb. 10 in New York after his music mogul Bensusan went to authorities saying he had been bilked out of millions of dollars. He was indicted on the charges in April.

His Prebul Auto Group filed for bankruptcy, and it has been split up and sold. He recently filed for personal bankruptcy.

The government is seeking to use tapes made by the Bensusans of conversations with Prebul. Defense attorneys said Prebul was not aware he was being taped on any of the calls with the Bensusans.


Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Nov. 21-26

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Nov. 21-26: Christopher Sterling Holcombe, 38, of 1606 Bussell Place, Fort Oglethorpe was arrested November 20 on charges of possession of firearm at public gathering and possession of firearm by convicted felon.   Atlanta Shannice Dixon, 22, of 2113 Union Avenue, Fort Oglethorpe was arrested November 21 on charges of ... (click for more)

Crime Stoppers: Murder Of James Richard Harris

Crime Stoppers and the Walker County Sheriff’s Office are seeking information on the homicide of James Richard Harris.   On Dec. 22, 1994, at approximately 7:41 a.m., the Walker County Sheriff’s Office responded to 1610 Boss Road in Chickamauga for a body in the driveway. The body was identified as that of 54-year-old James Richard Harris who resided at that address and ... (click for more)

Lawlessness At Heritage Park

As a frequent visitor at Heritage Park in East Brainerd, I must say that the situation is becoming slightly out of control.  To start, parking is atrocious.  The unpaved lot contains nothing but loose gravel which has naturally given way to divots in the ground assuring you a few bumps.  Why isn't this area smoothed out?  It's not worth parking there anyways ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)

Alcoa, A Prep Football Gold Standard, Up Next For Irish

Notre Dame almost had a crack at powerful Alcoa in the 2013 TSSAA football playoff semifinal round. But, in the quarterfinals, Alcoa beat Christian Academy of Knoxville, 42-14, but the Fighting Irish dropped a 19-10 decision to Upperman, which was crushed, 75-18, a week later by the Tornadoes. Alcoa clipped Christ Presbyterian Academy, 25-7, in the state championship game. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Women Shock No.4 Tennessee, 67-63

Before the season started some people across the country called Chattanooga women’s basketball coach Jim Foster crazy for scheduling three top 10 teams – Notre Dame (national runner-up) Stanford and Tennessee - before Christmas. After Wednesday night’s UTC shocking 67-63 home win against No.4 Tennessee before 4,160, those same folks might believe coach Foster is crazy like ... (click for more)