published Friday, February 18th, 2011

Peerless Mill owner out of jail on bond

Les Coffey, owner of the Peerless Mill in Rossville, was released from the Walker County Jail on a $1,000 bond Thursday after being arrested Wednesday on a felony charge of making terroristic threats against the city.

Tennessee American Water cut off service to the mill Wednesday morning. Rossville police Detective Dave Scroggins said Coffey called the City Court clerk's office with threats to block the city sewer line unless his water was turned on.

Rossville City Court Clerk Rhonda Keith said Coffey angrily declared that the city had violated a contract with him by turning his water off.

"He said that if we didn't have his water turned on by 10 a.m. that he would put a chunk of concrete in the sewer line," Keith said.

Scroggins said that Coffey also called a Kleen-A-Matic in Rossville and told people there that if they didn't help him negotiate with city authorities, he'd cut off the sewer line and hurt their business. Coffey said Thursday that he made no such threats. The owners at Kleen-A-Matic could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Georgia Code defines a terroristic threat as one "to commit any crime of violence, to release any hazardous substance ... or otherwise [cause] serious public inconvenience or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience."

Coffey said he owns the mill's sewer system. He said he always pays the Tennessee American Water bill but refuses to pay the portion allotted for sewer services because the city owes him fees for its use of the sewer. He said his threats to block the line were no different from a utility company threatening to cut off the service of a delinquent customer.

"The city of Rossvillle knows that they don't own the sewer system. They owe me $985,000 in sewer fees, and this is how they're trying to get out of it," he said.

The city maintains that the system is publicly owned and that it contracts with Tennessee American Water for sewage treatment.

Keith said the city can't turn water service on or off.

"That's up to Tennessee American Water, not us," she said.

Coffey was released on condition that he make "no threatening, harassing, or otherwise provoking communications" with any Rossville employee or business owners, according to court documents. He also was ordered not to make any "unauthorized access to or participate in any activity that might adversely affect any of the public utilities" of Rossville.

Coffey said those conditions are too harsh.

"They effectively seized the complex, and took away my rights of free speech," he said.

Scroggins said that's not true.

"Mr. Coffey seems to believe he is exempt from complying with the rules that every other citizen of this state is expected to follow," he said.

Coffey said he plans to file a federal lawsuit against Rossville. His court date on the threat charge will be set later.

Staff writer Carey O'Neil contributed to this story.

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lcoffey1 said...

I have been going to Chattanooga to take a dump as I am affraid that using it in Rossville will violate my bond.

February 18, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.
jpo3136 said...

One cannot make multi-million dollar debts go away by blackmailing a city with some kind of concrete sewer portcullis.

It's obvious that his massive indebtedness is driving this man insane.

Do we have any contractual evidence that this debt Coffey claims Rossville owes him is real and not imagined?

I anticipate that this guy will try to defend himself in court. It's probably not going to be funny because it will begin to dawn on people that this guy, and his community, are in real trouble over this debt. He's acting up so much that he's going to alienate people he needs to recruit to help him build an answer. In the end, somehow the taxpayer is going to end up having to cover down on these large unpaid bills, which probably shouldn't have been allowed to go through to begin with, given his past debt troubles. It looked like, from the dates described in other articles, that he may have gotten one set of loans approved as the other bankruptcies were being argued over. Who knows. It probably won't be a pleasure to sort out.

Rossville will need to find someone to plod through all that and bring this thing to a more sound and stable conclusion. Coffey himself is obviously under stress, and will probably soon be at the point his decisions are so irrational that he is not likely to be helpful. Meanwhile, he probably does have skills which could help him work his way out of this trouble if he could think clearly.

Rossville will probably discover that it is in their best interest to begin shepherding these people, including his lien-holders and investors, out of trouble.

One thing they can do is to set some kind of goals for what to do with that property in a way that's plausible and profitable. The sewer blockade idea, for example, only signals desperation. We need a commercially viable alternative.

I suggest that they find a way to get the lienholder their principal back; call that deal even, without interest, because they should have known better than to lend to someone with a multi-million dollar bankruptcy pending.

Next, raze that whole place, plausibly. You know you are not going to profit off of that tear down operation. There will be some money brought in here and there; but, there will be HAZMAT fees and transportation and labor costs and all that.

With the ground cleared, Rossville can start over. Maybe an auction of the seized land, after clearing, will make up for the administrative costs of the headache so far.

Even though a judge said Coffey can't have another bankruptcy, it's obvious that the community is going to suffer if they don't step in with some rational plan of action.

Good luck. And try to come up with something better than sewer blockade for bucks. It's Rossville's mill, really; this guy cannot pay to own or operate it. His debt is driving him insane to the point of nuisance behavior. The city can do better. They can help their neighbor.

February 18, 2011 at 5:40 p.m.
Salsa said...

Please stay in Georgia. We already have enough dung here.

February 18, 2011 at 6:44 p.m.
lcoffey1 said...

Seriously folks: I am thinking very rational. Have all my marbles in one place. Running on 8 cylinders.

The unfortunate thing is the city don't have the money to pay squat. That is the real problem You need to look at the history of Rossville and sewers. This is the third suit they have had over sewers. The first was the Federal government. The second was the State of Georgia. In the end the state had to get a court order to force them to actually stop running their sewer into Chattanooga Creek. They then had to sell bonds on behalf or Rossville to build a sewer line and get a court order to make them pay the debt. Now we are suing them to pay us for the portion they are using. This is all a matter of public record. Go to U.S. district court and read case number 4:10 CV-0013 HLM. You will see the city does not dispute these facts and in fact admitted such.

In order to do a imenent domain you have to actually have money to pay the creditors and land owner. With them running on 400 thousand and 350,000 short on their employee pension fund they are already in the toilet per se. They can't issue bonds as they do not have a good enough balance sheet. At the rate they are going they will be out of money in about 3-6 months.

They said Ted Turner was crazy. Also Albert Einstein was said to be so crazy he would go to the bathroom and forget to wipe. Sometimes what appears to be crazy and volitile is in fact brilliance.

Don't count me out folks. If the articles are true and correct. I managed to buy millions of dollars worth of assets and make a 350,000 dollar down payment on the Peerless site all the while I was bankrupt. You must say if that is true I have to know something most people don't know.

As it sits now I am so broke I have 20 bucks in my pocket. I don't have a checking account and drive a 1984 truck, but I manage to make things work.

The final chapter of this book is a long way from being written. Will I come out looking good? Absolutely not. Will I make a few million for my kids and be on top? You bet.

February 18, 2011 at 9:07 p.m.
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