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Priceville Partners owner back to jail for alleged used car fraud
A Decatur man already charged with selling used cars he did not own is back in jail for allegedly doing it again.
Greg Steenson, 49, an owner of Priceville Partners from June 2013 until February 2016, was charged in August 2016 with multiple counts of theft and forgery, most revolving around the sale of vehicles to which he allegedly did not hold titles. His bond was conditionally revoked for allegedly doing the same thing.
According to an affidavit filed in the Morgan County District Court along with a motion to revoke bond, Steenson in late 2017 swindled $15,650 from the owner of a used car dealership in Birmingham. Steenson's bond, according to the motion signed by District Attorney Scott Anderson, required that he obey all laws and "that he refrain from buying, selling, trading or otherwise being involved in the transfer of automobiles."
Morgan County District Attorney’s investigator Johnny Coker said in the affidavit he was contacted by Craig Westbrook, owner of Birmingham Broker, in January. Steenson allegedly told Westbrook he was looking for a partner, which he needed because he had recently sold a used car business and had signed a non-compete clause.
Steenson proposed, according to the affidavit, two separate business deals. In one, Steenson would purchase high-end used vehicles which would then be sold at Westbrook’s Birmingham business. In the other, Steenson would join with Westbrook in buying low-value cars which they would sell to a “buy here-pay here” lot in Madison, Tennessee.
Westbrook made two initial cash payments to Steenson totaling $15,650, according to the affidavit, and Steenson provided him with a list of the 42 cars he purportedly had purchased. When Steenson kept coming up with excuses for why he had not delivered the cars to Westbrook, the Birmingham dealer became suspicious, according to the affidavit.
“Westbrook said he gained access to Steenson’s phone,” according to the affidavit. “He saw the Caller ID number listed as Steenson’s source for the used cars was actually the number for Jason Steenson, Greg Steenson’s brother.” Westbrook allegedly confronted Greg Steenson on , three weeks before contacting the DA’s office. “Westbrook video recorded the meeting with Steenson and accused him of fraud,” according to the affidavit. “At one point Steenson can be heard to say on the video, ‘You got me.’ Steenson then signed a statement prepared by Westbrook admitting to never buying the vehicles.”
Steenson’s Morgan County charges are not his first brush with the law. After pleading guilty to a check-kiting scheme involving Heritage Bank in 2002, he served 28 months in prison.
A director of Heritage Bank at the time of Steenson’s check-kiting scheme was Harold Jeffreys of Decatur. He became reacquainted with Steenson in 2013, when Steenson was selling Christmas trees from a lot he leased on Point Mallard Parkway.
Jeffreys claims he eventually invested more than $3 million in Priceville Partners, which was owned by Jeffreys, Jeffreys’ son and Steenson. Jeffreys blames its bankruptcy on Steenson. Steenson blames it on Jeffreys and his son. The bankruptcy trustee has filed complaints against all three seeking to recoup money for unsecured creditors.
One of those unsecured creditors was Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin, who loaned $150,000 from an account used to hold money for feeding jail inmates. The loan was to pay her 17 percent interest, but the bankruptcy interfered. She was found in contempt of court for the loan last year, as it violated a 2009 order preventing the sheriff from using food money for purposes other than feeding inmates. Because of Franklin's ties to Steenson, he is being held in Limestone County Jail instead of Morgan County Jail.
Franklin said she repaid the food account with money provided by her social friend Steven Ziaja, of Falkville, who she said encouraged her to make the loan. Ziaja, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency agent, had himself loaned more than $500,000 to the business, according to bankruptcy filings. He was indicted on 11 felony counts of computer tampering and one felony count of using his office "to obtain personal gain for himself, a family member or a business with which he was associated." . Ziaja pleaded not guilty, and he was released on $30,000 bond. He is on unpaid leave from ALEA.