Ex-PeopLounger chief faces up to 80 years on fraud counts

By Patsy R. Brumfield and Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Former PeopLoungers’ President James Clifton “Jimmy” Green Jr. of Tupelo pleaded guilty Thursday to bank fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.
Green, 57, was accused of misrepresenting his own financial information to several north Mississippi area banks, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford said. He did so to secure loans for his personal use and to maintain a fraud scheme on other banks.
He faces up to 80 years in prison and $2.5 million in fines. He is free on $5,000 bond.
Thursday, Green appeared before Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills to answer the information, which is a criminal charge that hasn’t been before a grand jury. He was represented by attorney Tony Farese of Ashland.
The prosecutor was Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul D. Roberts.
During 2006, he was accused of using a $300,000 loan from Community Bank-North Mississippi to pay other banks to keep his scheme going – the Bank of New Albany for $33,225.95 for interest on a loan, AmSouth Bank of $75,312.50 to pay off a loan, and BancorpSouth of $11,083.43 and Bank of Vernon (Ala.) of $71,699.31, both interest on a loan.
The charges related to his personal funds and were not related to any business dealings involving PeopLoungers.
Count One against him said he conspired to defraud Community Bank with a personal financial statement that overvalued his assets and did not truthfully list his liabilities for the unsecured, personal loan.
Prosecutors said he also obtained personal loans by the same method from Renasant Bank, First Commercial Bank, Merchant and Farmers’ Bank, Cadence Bank, First Tennessee and Trustmark National Bank.
He used the money for personal expenses and also “to kite loan payments to prevent his scheme … from being discovered.”
The other two counts to which he pleaded guilty say he used the mail and private interstate carriers to mail a check to Community Bank, advising them he wanted to renew his loan for another three months.
In exchange for his plea, the U.S. agreed not to charge him with anything else coming from the charges. He also may be ordered to pay restitution.
Green’s sentence date will not be set until a report is complete from the U.S. Probation Service. It usually takes about two months.
In the meantime, he has been ordered to maintain or seek a job, restrict travel to north Mississippi, refrain from excessive use of alcohol and participate in a substance abuse therapy and counseling, if that’s considered advisable.
Nettleton-based Peoploungers, which made upholstered furniture, was started in Tupelo in 1979 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2007.
Green said at the time that the bankruptcy filing was necessary because of pricing pressures and because competition from Asia, particularly China, had cut into its business. In its Chapter 11 filing, the company said it owed its top 20 creditors about $5.7 million. It also said sales dropped from about $94 million in 2003 to an estimated $50 million.
PeopLoungers received “debtor in possession” financing to continue operations, and Green boldly said, “We went through a restructuring 10 years ago, and we’re going through a similar situation now.”
Under new management, PeopLoungers moved its remaining 175 employees to its Mantachie plant in late 2007. Green remained with the company for a short time in a consulting capacity but was not a part of the executive team.
The company shrank its showroom at the Tupelo Furniture Market, where it had moved its main offices, but the company closed for good in 2008.
At its peak, PeopLoungers employed about 1,000 people. As late as 2006, the company employed more than 600 workers with a $4.3 million payroll.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com. Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.