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VOL. 122 | NO. 131 | Monday, July 16, 2007

Daily Digest

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Infiniti Opens Dealership Near Wolfchase Galleria

     Georgia-based JWE ACE LLP has bought property at 3084 Germantown Road for $1.9 million. The site is slated to become the new Infiniti of Memphis dealership. The seller was Keras Realty LP.
     The 9.75-acre site is on Germantown Road near U.S. 64. The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal of the lot was $46,100.
     A loan was taken out from Wachovia Bank in the amount of $1.9 million May 29. The loan collateral also includes the Infiniti of Memphis property at 1831 Getwell Road, which JWE ACE bought in September 2000 for $2 million.
     Representatives from Infiniti of Memphis were not available by press time.

Red Cross of the Mid-South Experiences Low Blood Levels

     The American Red Cross of the Mid-South has issued an urgent appeal for blood. The agency especially needs especially types O and B, and donations of all blood types are needed to help reduce the demand for these critical blood types.
     Currently, the Red Cross has an overall one-day supply of blood, with five of the eight blood types at an even lower level. Red Cross officials have said the shortage could result in a critical situation if there is a blood emergency.
     For more information about donating blood, call 800-GIVE-LIFE.

International Paper Elects Nicholls as New CFO

     International Paper has elected Timothy S. Nicholls as senior vice president and chief financial officer, effective Dec. 1.
     "Tim's global business, finance and operations experience make him an excellent choice to be our next CFO," said International Paper chairman and CEO John Faraci in a statement. "He will be a strong addition to our leadership team as we continue to execute our transformation plan."
     Nicholls, 45, is vice president and executive project leader on special assignment related to the company's potential joint venture with Russian pulp and paper company, Ilim Pulp. He also has served as vice president and chief financial officer of the company's European operations, based in Brussels, Belgium, and as president of the company's former Canadian pulp and wood products business.
     Nicholls began his career in the paper industry with Union Camp Corp. in 1991, where he held positions in finance, business management and planning and development in both U.S. and non-U.S. packaging operations. When International Paper acquired Union Camp in 1999, he became general manager of the emerging markets segment of the combined company's corrugated packaging business and later became director of finance and planning for the industrial packaging sector.
     Nicholls earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina and has a master's in business administration from the University of Georgia.

Tennessee Waltz Keeps Dancing With Latest Guilty Pleas

     Federal prosecutors are closing in on a clean sweep in convictions of state lawmakers charged in the Tennessee Waltz corruption scandal.
     State Sen. Ward Crutchfield pleaded guilty to bribery Thursday and the attorney for former state Sen. Kathryn Bowers said she planned to plead guilty today, when Crutchfield was scheduled to go to trial.
     Crutchfield, 78, admitted taking $3,000 from an undercover FBI agent during the statewide bribery and extortion investigation code named Tennessee Waltz. Prosecutors dropped a more serious extortion charge against Crutchfield in exchange for his guilty plea.
     "I have read the (plea) agreement, and I accept responsibility," Crutchfield told Judge J. Daniel Breen.
     Crutchfield, D-Chattanooga, and Bowers, D-Memphis, were the last of five Tennessee Waltz lawmakers still facing trial, the others having pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial.
     Bowers already was scheduled for a change of plea hearing today. Attorney William Massey confirmed she planned to plead guilty.
     "She brings this one blemish to the courtroom but a lifetime of good work and a positive history in the community," Massey said. "We hope to convince the judge it's not necessary to punish her severely or send a message to the community."
     He said if prison time is ordered, "That's what she'll do. She's strong."
     Tennessee Waltz indictments were returned in May 2005, charging four state lawmakers and a former lawmaker with taking payoffs from a company called E-Cycle Management, which turned out to be a creation of the FBI.
     Crutchfield, who has been in the General Assembly for 31 years, is the only lawmaker charged in the investigation who hasn't resigned from office.
     Defense lawyer William Farmer said Crutchfield will step aside "in due time," before the legislature returns to session in January.
     A special election will be necessary if Crutchfield resigns before early November. Otherwise, the county commission in Chattanooga will appoint an interim senator.
     The bribery charge to which Crutchfield pleaded guilty carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, though federal guidelines for a first-time offender would call for a much lighter sentence. Sentencing was set for Nov. 28.
     Crutchfield and Farmer refused to discuss a possible sentence.
     Former Rep. Chris Newton, R-Cleveland, pleaded guilty to the same Tennessee
     Waltz bribery charge and spent nine months in prison. Farmer said Crutchfield will request probation.
     The two-count indictment against Crutchfield accused him of splitting $12,000 in bribes with former lobbyist Charles Love. Love pleaded guilty to being a payoff "bag man" and is awaiting sentencing. He was expected to testify against Crutchfield.
     Prosecutors have said the Tennessee Waltz investigation is continuing.
     Former Sen. Roscoe Dixon, D-Memphis, who had left the legislature before his indictment, was convicted of extortion and bribery and is serving a five-year prison sentence. Former Sen. John Ford, D-Memphis, was convicted of bribery and is scheduled for sentencing July 31.
     Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said Crutchfield's plea will help restore the public's trust in state government.
     "The lesson of Tennessee Waltz is that no one is above the law," Ramsey said.
     Crutchfield remains eligible for a $42,000 annual pension because his membership in the state's retirement system predated changes in a law designed to strip benefits from convicted lawmakers.

DAC, Fitness 24 Combine to Form DAC 24

     Two local fitness companies with similar business philosophies are joining forces.
     DAC - formerly known as DeSoto Athletic Club - and Fitness 24 are combining to form one larger fitness chain of clubs, DAC 24. Five DAC 24 clubs already are open in Arlington, Bartlett, Senatobia, Olive Branch and Brighton. They are open 24 hours a day and include the latest in cardio and strength equipment, among other amenities, for guests.
     More DAC clubs will be opening soon in East Memphis, Millington and Cordova. DAC first opened its doors in Southaven in 1999 and quickly expanded beyond DeSoto County.
PROPERTY SALES 50 389 12,758
MORTGAGES 21 248 8,003
BUILDING PERMITS 295 813 29,934
BANKRUPTCIES 35 164 6,064