published Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Local bank fraud conviction tossed

A Hamilton County man who spent about two years in prison in connection with the Benton Banking fraud case could be released in a few weeks after his conviction was overturned, his attorney said Friday.

Timothy Parkes could walk out of a prison in Mississippi after an appeals court said the evidence in the case was insufficient to prove his guilt.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reversed Parke's convictions, vacated his sentence and said the district court should enter an acquittal judgment.

"The 6th Circuit came to the same conclusion we came to -- there was no evidence," Parkes' attorney, Miami lawyer David M. Garvin, said.

The U.S. attorney's office said late Friday it is still reviewing the appeals court decision and will decide later whether to appeal.

Parkes, a co-founder of auto floor mat maker Remington Industries, was sentenced in December 2009 to 61/2 years after being convicted of nine counts of fraud.

However, the appeals court found that "any rational trier of fact would have a reasonable doubt about Parkes' guilt." The appeals court said the trial court erred when it denied Parkes' motion for a judgment of acquittal.

The appeals court also said the trial court erred when it did not allow evidence that former Benton Bank President Jim Goddard had motive and opportunity to perpetuate fraud without Parkes' knowledge.

Goddard pleaded guilty in federal court to using the Polk County, Tenn., bank's funds to pay personal expenses over more than 10 years. He received a 78-month federal prison sentence in 2009.

Garvin said he is "happy for Mr. Parkes today," adding that his only regret is that it's two years late for his client.

Authorities said Goddard had begun the scheme in 1993, paying a personal American Express bill for $11,879 with bank funds as late as January 2007. He used the money for other expenses, authorities said, such as travel, home improvements and federal income taxes.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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