Legal Controversy Overshadows Jimmy Winemiller's Wheeling & Dealing Career

by George Waldon  on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 12:00 am  

The 507-acre training and boarding spread complete with racing track is east of Perryville.

In September 2010, the Winemillers made horse racing news when they paid $475,000 for a filly sired by Ghostzapper, 2004 Horse of the Year, and birthed by Azeri, 2002 Horse of the Year.

At the time, Jimmy Winemiller told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette the foal was among a dozen or so race horses he and his wife had an ownership stake in.

Meanwhile in Mississippi

The criminal case against Winemiller and other participants in the Straight Creek transaction was given legs by allegations raised in the earlier civil fraud case.

Jimmy Don Winemiller and his son, Michael, are accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States and loan/credit application fraud in connection with the deal, aided by bribery, forgery and bogus appraisals.

The Winemillers were accused of removing assets from the property before the sale was completed, including timber, equipment and more than 6.2 million pounds of catfish.

Those assets were supposed to be part of the purchase and remain as collateral on the $10 million loan that financed the deal.

The loan was made by Gulf Coast Bank & Trust of New Orleans and was largely guaranteed by the federal government's Rural Development Administration.

Wilbur Peer of Upper Marlboro, Md., an associate administrator at the USDA's Rural Business Cooperative Services, was identified by the government as receiving a $50,000 bribe from Jimmy Winemiller to help make the loan happen.

According to the government's case, the alleged bribe was made through a Feb. 4, 2001, check that Becky Winemiller wrote at her husband's behest.

Among other allegations, Michael Winemiller helped inflate the value of the Straight Creek property with phantom assets including equipment and
a fictitious count of catfish inventory.



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