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.



Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news.  Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADKINS, KENNETH WAYNE  REFUSED CHATTANOOGA, 37416  Age at Arrest: 42 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County FAILURE TO COMPLY --- ANDREWS, JEFFREY NATHAN  209 ISBELL ROAD CHATTANOOGA, 37419  Age at Arrest: 42 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga VIOLATION OF PROBATION ... (click for more)

Vote No On The Rezoning For A New Landfill In Harrison - And Response (3)

County Commissioners, please consider the following facts when voting on the rezoning request for a new privately-owned C&D landfill in Harrison.  Use of this property for a landfill has been rejected by the county three times in the past (1971, 1984 and 2007).  In 1971 and 2007 the County Commissioners unanimously rejected the proposal.  In 1984 the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Mom Don’t Have…I Do’

It’s hard to know what goes through the mind of a five-year-old, particularly one who watches her mom go in and out of jail due to drug addiction. But little Sunshine Oelfke is obviously being raised right by her grandmother because the other morning, the five-year-old came into the kitchen before leaving for kindergarten with a baggie full of coins from her piggy bank. “I asked ... (click for more)

Lady Canes Knocked To State Volleyball Loser's Bracket By Portland

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – East Hamilton, a relative green horn when it comes to volleyball’s biggest stage, saved its best effort of the season for Tuesday’s opening match of the 2017 state tournament against Sullivan South. Facing a five-time and defending champion from Kingsport, Tennessee, East Hamilton notched an impressive 3-0 sweep by scores of 25-22, 25-14 and 25-17. ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats Father Ryan Again To Advance At State

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The third time was not the charm for Father Ryan here at MTSU’s Murphy Center Tuesday afternoon. Facing the Baylor Lady Red Raiders in the opening round of the TSSAA D-II Class AA state volleyball tournament, the defending state runner-up Baylor squad defeated their Nashville rivals in three straight sets, winning by scores of 25-19, 25-12 and 25-23. ... (click for more)