Greenville property at center of investigation

Published 11:20 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

By Michele Gerlach
Andalusia Star-News

A Greenville property is at the center of a federal conspiracy case.

An Andalusia man has pled guilty in federal court to conspiracy to pay bribes to an employee of what was then Peoples Bank of Coffee County.

Harry Tyrone Courson, 66, of Andalusia, pled guilty to one count.

Courson’s plea is the latest development in the government’s continuing investigation in a case that involves John Tomberlin, 40, of Andalusia, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Montgomery. In June, Tomberlin was charged in a one-count felony indictment with unlawfully participating in the proceeds of loans from Peoples. The information was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where other charges were pending against Tomberlin. In August, he pled guilty to that count, as well as those pending in the Pennsylvania court. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 22, 2011, in Philadelphia.

According to court records, in February 2007, an employee of Peoples caused Peoples to fund a $316,368 loan, which financed the purchase for Courson’s benefit of 80 acres of land in Greenville.

Prior to the closing of the transaction, Courson agreed with Tomberlin and the employee that Tomberlin and the employee would each receive a third of the profits of the sale of the Greenville property.

In October of 2007, Courson caused the Greenville property to be sold at a profit of approximately $54,000. That same date, the bank employee caused Peoples to loan the buyer approximately $399,852 to finance the purchase, according to the press release.

Later that month, Courson caused $18,000 to be paid to an entity controlled by the employee and $18,000 to be paid to Tomberlin.

In addition to the Greenville property transaction, in September 2007, Courson paid the bank employee by leaving $10,000 in cash under the seat of the employee’s truck.

In November of 2007, the employee caused Peoples to loan $395,000 to an individual associated with Tomberlin to finance the purchase of land in Andalusia. That person was not named by the U.S. Attorney’s office. As payment for the bank employee having made the loan, three days later, Tomberlin caused an entity he controlled to pay the bank employee $50,000.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for Troy Bank and Trust, which now owns what was then People’s Bank, said, “ no ‘employee(s)’ referred to in this news release is/are presently associated with any branch of the bank.”

Both Tomberlin and Courson are free on bail pending sentencing.

The matter is being investigated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Office of Inspector General and by the U.S. Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew O. Schiff is prosecuting the case.