Rep. Tom Graves' failed hotel manager charged with theft

Rep. Tom Graves' failed hotel manager charged with theft

July 26th, 2011 by Andy Johns in News

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves.

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves.

John Edens

John Edens

Jonathon Edens

Jonathon Edens

The man who took over the debt on U.S. Rep. Tom Graves' failed motel has been charged with theft.

John Letcher Edens, 51, was arrested by Cartersville, Ga., police on June 22 on a charge of theft by conversion in Roswell, Ga.

His son, Jonathon Edward Edens, also was arrested and charged with the same offense.

After being charged and bonding out in Fulton County, the younger Edens was booked in Chattanooga on June 27 on a domestic violence charge, records show.

The charges add another ripple to the muddy waters surrounding the Oglethorpe Inn in Calhoun, Ga., that Graves and state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers owned.

Graves and Rogers, R-Woodstock, were sued by Bartow County Bank in January 2010 after the bank said the lawmakers sold their failing motel and hospitality company to Edens without telling the lender.

The two legislators filed a counterclaim in March 2010, stating that the bank had allowed their company, Tich Hospitality, to refinance the loan in November 2009, but then went back on its word.

Usually, theft by conversion charges are filed when someone uses something owned by his or her employer for personal use, according to Roswell Police spokesman James McGee. He did not know the details of the charges against the Edenses, but they stem from an incident within the Roswell city limits so they probably don't involve the motel, he said.

Graves and Rogers had borrowed $2.25 million to buy and renovate the Oglethorpe Inn off Interstate 75 in Calhoun, Ga. When Tich began missing payments, Graves and Rogers transferred the property and the company to John Edens. Rogers and Graves since have said they don't owe any more on the loan, because they don't own the motel or the company anymore.

In May, John Edens told the Cherokee Ledger News he has tried to make payments on the loan, but the bank turned them away because he is not listed on the agreement. The inn closed in February after he failed to pay an $11,000 power bill, according to media reports.

In 2010, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that John Edens had filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and has had more than $200,000 in liens and judgments filed against him. Most of the liens had been thrown out in recent years, the paper reported.

Graves and Rogers are expected to appear at an Aug. 11 summary judgment hearing in Calhoun.

Contact Andy Johns at 423-757-6324 or ajohns@timesfreepress.com.