GUILTY: Booneville's Keenum pleads to federal bank fraud

By Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal

GREENVILLE – Thomas D. Keenum Sr., whose name just came off a Booneville community college’s stadium, accepted a prosecution deal this morning and pleaded guilty to one count of federal bank fraud.

The longtime Prentiss County attorney faces up to 30 years in prison, no more than $1 million in fines and possible restitution, court records show.

Keenum, 72, admitted to U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. that he had local attorneys file title opinions that Keenum’s 10.5 acres in Alcorn County were free and clear of any “encumbrances.”

But, in his scheme, he said it wasn’t true and that he used the fraudulent opinions to get new bank loans totaling more than $376,000 as he sought to get himself out of financial difficulties from 2005 until 2007.

Banks the government accused him of defrauding were Peoples in Ripley of $115,102; Community Spirit in Red Bay, Ala., for $126,227; and BancorpSouth in Bonneville for $135,447.

He waived a federal indictment in accepting the charges called an “information,” which doesn’t go before a grand jury.

In exchange for his plea, the former Northeast Mississippi Community College trustee agreed to his guilt in only one count, the BancorpSouth one.

Federal prosecutors agreed they would not charge him for anything else arising from this scheme, although the deal doesn’t stop any charges relating to federal taxes.

He likely will not be sentenced for several months while the U.S. Probation Service prepares a report for the judge on guidelines for what his sentence should be.

Late Tuesday morning, it was not known whether the local attorneys who signed Keenum’s title opinions would be in any jeopardy from federal charges. Their identities were not made public by prosecutors.

Keenum is likely to be disbarred because of his felony conviction, although the Mississippi Bar’s directory shows that his license already is suspended.

• Details in Wednesday’s Daily Journal.