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Friday, January 29, 2016

Used car dealership partners in lawsuit over $3.2 million

  morgancountywhistleblower comments:

We have been reporting on the Title Marts for several months.  Our primary concern was Steven Ziaja's silent partnership with Steenson.  We had several people go to the different Title Marts to verify Ziaja's involvement with the Title Marts.  In addition Alyssa Franklin, our absent sheriff's daughter, worked at the Hartselle Title Mart.  Franklin purchased a boom lift truck from the Priceville Title Mart for $4,900.00.  

Another concern we have is with Jennifer Howell hearing the case Mr. Jeffreys brought against the Steensons.  Howell is friends with Franklin and Ziaja.  Ziaja is a silent partner going so far as to brag about his partnership.  The Howell's help Steven Ziaja campaign for Franklin for sheriff. 

Decatur Daily Article:
 
Harold Jeffreys, a former Decatur bank president, has filed a lawsuit claiming Greg Steenson, his partner in a Decatur used car dealership, swindled him out of $3.2 million. The lawsuit, filed Dec. 31 in Morgan County Circuit Court, says Jeffreys has loaned Steenson $3.2 million since 2013 to buy cars wholesale for resale, but has not been repaid any of the money.
“We contend that Mr. Steenson misappropriated that money and other moneys from the company and Mr. Jeffreys,” Andrew Campbell, a Birmingham attorney representing Jeffreys, said Thursday afternoon.

The lawsuit also names Jason Steenson, who is Greg Steenson’s brother, and Bill Steenson, who is Greg Steenson’s father, as defendants.

Jeffreys, the former president of then-Heritage Bank in Decatur, owns 60 percent of Priceville Partners LLC, and Greg Steenson owns 40 percent, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit claims Jeffreys loaned Greg Steenson $250,000 to start the company in 2013 to buy and resell used cars.

Steenson later that year expanded the company to buy cars wholesale to sell to dealers and the next year added a title loan business to the operations.

Along with the used car lot at 2903 Point Mallard Parkway S.E., the company has locations in Hartselle, Moulton, Hoover and Chelsea.

Jeffreys continued to loan Greg Steenson money for the business for a total of $3.2 million, and has never been repaid or received any dividends or payments from the business, the lawsuit states.

“It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma,” Campbell said. “We want to find out what Mr. Steenson did with the money.”

The lawsuit claims Jeffreys became concerned about the company’s financial situation in November when he saw a financial report that showed the company was owed $3.4 million from car buyers, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit calls the financial report “a complete fabrication.”

The report said Capital City Ford in Indianapolis owed the company $6 million and Woody Anderson, a Huntsville Ford dealer, owed the company $900,000. It also showed the title loan business had about $8 million in accounts receivable, the lawsuit says.

Capital City Ford and Anderson both told Jeffreys they had never done business with Priceville Partners and had never met Greg Steenson, according to the lawsuit.

“This discovery by Jeffreys confirmed that Priceville Partners was a scam, perpetuated by Greg (Steenson), in an effort to defraud Jeffreys of millions of dollars,” the lawsuit claims.

Steenson’s attorney, Jimmy Adams, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Adams said in court filings that Greg Steenson denies Jeffrey’s allegations, that he hasn’t misrepresented the company’s financial condition, and he repaid Jeffreys’ loans at 17 percent interest.

“I vehemently deny that I have misappropriated any of the business funds for my personal use, or for the use of anyone else for that matter,” Greg Steenson said in an affidavit filed with the court

The lawsuit notes that Greg Steenson served time in prison after pleading guilty in 2002 to bank fraud conspiracy charges related to a check kiting scheme and the presentation of false financial statements to banks for loans.

Court records show Greg Steenson was sentenced to four years and three months in federal prison on the charges and ordered to pay restitution of $723,293.64 to Union Planters Bank and $4.5 million to The Bank.

Jeffreys’ lawsuit, which has been assigned to Morgan County Circuit Judge Jennifer Howell, accuses Greg Steenson of fraud and deceit and asks for compensatory and punitive damages to be decided by a jury, along with interest, attorney fees and court costs.

Howell issued an order Jan. 7 prohibiting the defendants from transferring or disposing of any of the company’s property or assets.

The two sides agreed on Jan. 11 to appoint Ralph Summerford, a certified public accountant, as a receiver to run Priceville Partners for 30 days. No company assets were to be transferred without Summerford’s approval, and he was to make a full accounting of all the company’s assets and liabilities, and audit past transactions and expenses.

But four days later, Greg Steenson’s attorney filed a motion to remove Summerford as receiver because he said it was clear Summerford was biased and an advocate for Jeffreys. The motion also said it was obvious Summerford intended to liquidate all of the company’s assets, which would harm the company and Greg Steenson.

A March 9 hearing is set on the motion to keep Summerford from liquidating the company’s assets.

A hearing is set for Wednesday morning on a motion filed Monday by Jeffreys’ lawyer asking the court to allow Summerford to liquidate all of the company’s assets.

The motion asks that the money from the sale of assets be placed in an escrow account by Summerford to pay the company’s creditors.

“What we’re trying to do is salvage the remaining assets the best we can at this time,” Campbell said.

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