An Alabama couple pleaded guilty today in federal court to charges related to a land deal they made with a real estate appraiser and state Sen. Jerry Cooper, D-Smartt.
Anthony Clement Auyer, and his wife, Theresa Auyer, pleaded guilty one day before they were scheduled for trial along with appraiser James Passons.
Mr. Auyer pleaded guilty to all 14 counts against him including charges of bank fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud.
Ms. Auyer pleaded guilty to nine counts against her including charges of bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble said Sen. Cooper arranged for Mr. Passons to conduct a fraudulent appraisal of a lumber mill the lawmaker was attempting to sell.
Cooper asked Mr. Passons to reflect that there was a rail spur on the property when there was not, Mr. Humble said.
Sen. Cooper is named in the indictment only as an unindicted co-conspirator, but Chattanooga lawyers Lee Davis, who represents Mr. Auyer, and Bill Speek, who represents Ms. Auyer, said their clients are willing to testify if necessary.
At this point we havent been contacted by the government, but Mr. Auyer will be 100 percent truthful, Mr. Davis said.
The Auyers are is scheduled to be sentenced July 24.
See tomorrows Chattanooga Times Free Press for full coverage.
E-mail Brian Lazenby at email@example.com