5:15 pm
Fair, 66°
     News Flash    Monday, April 22, 2024
News Flash Subscribe to News Flash Emails
Express Grain's president John Coleman's criminal trial put off

Friday, March 31, 2023, 6:49 pm News Flash Archive

The federal criminal trial scheduled for Express Grain president John Coleman on fraud charges has been continued to a later date by Judge Michael Mills.

The order may be seen here: Order Continuing Trial

This is the second time the trial has been continued. It was scheduled originally for January 30, 2023, but the court postponed it to May 8, 2023.

The trial is now set for August 14, 2023.

The continuance was requested by Coleman's criminal defense attorney John Colette of Jackson. Colette asked for the continuance because the discovery provided by the government:

. . . consists of hundreds of gigabytes/documents and files that will require a significant amount of time to review and go over with the defendant, in addition to the Discovery submitted in the companion State case which may contain similar documents and/or the same documents to a degree.

Most intriguing was Colette's statement about the review of the massive discovery:

. . . counsel believes after review of the Discovery materials a trial may not be required.

To read our previous coverage about John Coleman's criminal charges, to which he has pled not guilty, see here: Express Grain president John Coleman arrested by the FBI, indicted on multiple federal counts of wire fraud

Meanwhile, the farmers lawsuit filed by Don Barrett grinds on, with more innocent bystanders being dragged into the proceedings.

The latest of Barrett's demands appear in the form of a new subpoena against Oxbow Crush, the new owners of the old EG oil mill in Greenwood.

Even though OxBow Crush had absolutely nothing to do with EG before buying the mill in the bankruptcy proceedings from UMB Bank, Barrett demands that Oxbow turn over:

All computers and/or hard drives recovered by employees of Microsped, Inc. [a Greenwood based IT firm] after the Oxbow Crush, LLC's acquisition of Express Grain Terminals, LLC facility in Greenwood, Mississippi.

To view this latest subpoena, see here: Barrett Subpoena against Oxbow Crush

Barrett's suits have multiplied beyond his original complaint against UMB Bank. Now he represents farmers who have sued both UMB Bank and Horne LLP, EG's former audit firm, in Tallahatchie and Holmes County state courts. Furthermore, Barrett has petitioned the court in his original federal case to accept an amended complaint, and add Horne to that lawsuit as well.

Barrett's basic argument is that:

Defendants [UMB Bank and Horne] provided banking and accounting services that enabled and sustained Express Grain's fraud but turned a blind eye to Express Grain's impending collapse.

So far, Barrett has not provided evidence that either UMB Bank or Horne "turned a blind eye" to EG's impending collapse, but the day is still young. To see our comprehensive reporting on these lawsuits, view here: Farmers, Don Barrett sue Horne CPA in the Express Grain collapse

As of this Friday, the status of the three cases, all of which are presently pending in federal courts, is as follows:

Farmers v. UMB Bank

1. Since June 2022, awaiting Judge Henry Wingate's ruling on UMB Bank's motion to dismiss

2. Waiting for ruling on whether Barrett can amend the lawsuit and add Horne LLP as a defendant

Tallahatchie County Farmers vs. UMB Bank and Horne LLP

1. Pending motion to dismiss by UMB Bank

2. Pending motion to dismiss by Horne LLP

3. Pending motion to transfer to bankruptcy court by Horne LLP

4. Pending motion to return case to state court by the farmers

5. The court has stayed the case [placed it on hold] until Horne's motion to transfer the case to the bankruptcy court is decided.

Holmes County Farmers vs. UMB Bank and Horne LLP

1. Pending motion to dismiss by Horne LLP

2. Pending motion to transfer to bankruptcy court by Horne LLP

3. Pending motion to return case to state court by the farmers

4. The court has stayed the case until the farmers' motion to return the case to state court is decided.

There is no timeline at all for when these cases might proceed, or in which court they might end up.

Finally, in the Travelers Insurance indemnity lawsuit filed against Dr. Michael Coleman, his wife Virginia, and John Coleman's wife Jennefer, all parties have asked the court to stay the proceedings.

Travelers wrote the bonds for EG's grain licenses, totaling $1.1 million.

Now that EG has collapsed, and farmers with grain in EG's storage bins have been cheated out of their money, EG's bonds have been called by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce [MDAC].

The Colemans signed personal guaranties to make Travelers whole if the bond was called, and Travelers had to pay out damages. To see our previous coverage of this matter, view here: Travelers sues Colemans for bond in Express Grain bankruptcy case

The need for a stay comes because so far, nobody can determine how much Travelers will have to pay out. The Colemans would only be responsible to reimburse Travelers for its actual losses, and not necessarily for the full value of the bonds.

Travelers and the Department [MDAC] have reached an agreement regarding the resolution of claims under the Dealer Bond, but disputes remain related to Travelers' liability under the Warehouse Bond.

. . .

The Parties are actively engaged with the Department [MDAC] in the Administrative Proceeding and working toward a resolution of the claims therein. The Parties have also reached an interim agreement related to Travelers's obligations related to the Dealer Bond and Travelers's loss incurred to date. However, they are unable to determine Travelers's loss under the Warehouse Bond until the conclusion of the Administrative Proceeding and potential related litigation.

Therefore, the Parties are also not able to litigate the Defendants' [the Colemans] responsibility and liability under the Indemnity Agreement until Travelers's obligations under the Warehouse Bond are finally determined. The Parties had anticipated resolution of the Administrative Proceeding and Travelers's obligations and liability under the Dealer Bond and the Warehouse Bond well before the deadlines applicable to this case had expired. However, that has not occurred and the Parties seek to stay this action until the remaining issues between the Parties can either be amicably resolved or are otherwise ripe for adjudication.

The Grain Dealers bond covers only $100,000 worth of losses for EG's unpaid purchases of the farmers' grain. The Warehouse Bond covers $1 million worth of losses for EG's loss or conversion of grain it did not own, but was storing for the grain owners.

So far, the court has not ruled on the motion to stay this case.

To read the joint motion to stay, view here: Joint Motion to Stay Case

To read all our coverage of the Express Grain bankruptcy case, see here: Index of Express Grain articles

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

News Flash Archive