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.


Many Waldens Ridge Scenes Featured In Stokes Picture Book

A number of early views of Waldens Ridge are among the rarities found in the Stokes Photo Collection. There are many photos of the roads up the mountain showing streetcars, wagons and early autos. There are scenes at Rainbow Lake, Falling Water Falls, Signal Point and other scenic spots. Several photos are included of the Signal Mountain Hotel. The more than 700 photos ... (click for more)

2 Known Meth Distributors Arrested In Catoosa County

Two have been arrested in Catoosa County on drug charges.   Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted a traffic stop on Wednesday, at 7 p.m., on Highway 41 in Ringgold. During the stop, deputies seized two pounds of methamphetamine, which has an estimated street value of $30,000. Deputies arrested Jesus Humberto Lopez Deanda, 27, of Lilburn, Ga., and ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill - And Response

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Policeman’s Prayer

Every year, when the Law Enforcement Foundation of Greater Chattanooga holds its annual luncheon, it is one of the most heartening displays of what America really believes, down deep inside. The most prominent and influential leaders in the community – well over 1,000 -- gather to pay tribute and pledge their support to our heroes in blue who are unfaltering in their devotion, service ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Falls In State Volleyball Semis

SMYRNA, Tenn. – It’s a good thing that Signal Mountain volleyball coach Jennifer Redman is a young lady because her heart might not be able to stand the pressure if she wasn’t. Redman’s Lady Eagles were thisclose to being sent to the loser’s bracket in the opening round of the State Volleyball Tournament here at Stewarts Creek High School Wednesday afternoon. Had it been a ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Sweeps Loretto To Open Class A State Volleyball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Playing what coach Alfie Dodd called a sub-par match, Boyd-Buchanan’s Lady Bucs were still good enough to sweep Loretto, 3-0, Wednesday morning in the opening match of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class A state volleyball tournament at Blackman High School. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-20. “We advance and we know we can ... (click for more)