By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
GREENVILLE – Former Booneville attorney Thomas Keenum reports to prison Feb. 27 to serve a 22-month sentence for bank fraud.
U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. sentenced him Friday in Greenville.
Keenum, 73, pleaded guilty to one federal count in August 2010, but his sentencing was delayed reportedly by difficulties in determining the amount of fraudulent loans he made through numerous banks.
His attorney, Tony Farese of Ashland, said Pepper granted prosecutors’ request to reduce Keenum’s sentence from a 33- to 41-month range because of his “substantial” cooperation.
Prosecutors accused Keenum of a scheme to defraud BancorpSouth Bank in Booneville by telling bank officials that certain real property he owned was free and clear of any obligations.
The formal charge against him states he convinced local attorneys that he’d already done a title search of the property, which he said was true and correct. The attorneys then signed the title opinions without conducting any independent searches.
If any action was taken against those attorneys, it has not been made public.
The land in question was 10.5 acres Keenum owned in Alcorn County. First he borrowed $115,102 from Peoples Bank in Ripley, pledging the land as collateral. Later, he used it for a loan of $126,227 from Community Spirit Bank in Red Bay, Ala., and again for $135,447 from BancorpSouth in Booneville. He also obtained money from Community Spirit Bank by pledging as collateral fraudulent invoices from a company he owned.
The scheme is alleged to have occurred from June 2005 until November 2008.
On its face, the bank-fraud charge could have meant up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, plus restitution. He also faced forfeiture of any assets he derived from the fraud.
Keenum will be informed by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons about where he will serve his sentence.
The Mississippi Supreme Court disbarred Keenum last May after he turned in his Notice of Irrevocable Resignation from the state bar.
For a long time, Keenum was a significant figure in Prentiss County business and once made a considerable amount of money from the sale of his interest in a regional furniture manufacturing company.
He also was a longtime trustee of Northeast Mississippi Community College. His name was removed from its football stadium after he was arrested.
In April 2010, he and his wife sold their upscale home to Tracie A. Langston, their next door neighbor on the south side of Booneville.