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.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ARWOOD, THOMAS WILLIAM  4131 JONES COVE ROAD SEVIERVILLE, 378766658  Age at Arrest: 42 years old Arresting Agency: Collegedale Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- ASHBY, BRITTANY LYNN  3644 TANAKA TRAIL CHATT, 37404  Age at Arrest: 22 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Kendric Evans, 20, Shot On Lyerly Street

Police said 20-year-old Kendric Evans was shot on Lyerly Street late Sunday afternoon.   At 5:11 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a local hospital concerning a person who had been shot.   The victim arrived at the hospital suffering from a gunshot wound which was non-life threatening. The victim did not identify the suspect or how he had arrived at ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Washington’s Favorite

By the time darkness fell over Washington, D.C., on Sunday, it had clearly been a monumental weekend. On Friday Donald Trump had ben inaugurated as the 45 th President of the United States. On Saturday a fierce crowd of a half-million women who each are entitled to have the identical rights as men in the same United States, marched on The Mall. And then, the Washington Post printed ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)