This week, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jack Smith announced that a Tennessee business owner had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. 40-year-old Jeffery Lynn Gentry of White County, Tennessee was charged on July 5, 2017 with running a $43 million investment scheme and swindling investors out of more than $10 million.
Court documents confirmed that Gentry was the owner and operator of two Sparta, Tennessee businesses, Gentry Brothers Tractor Supply and Gentry Auto. Since 2012 and continuing until middle December of 2016, Jeffery Gentry concocted a scheme to defraud and acquire money and property from investors, while promising high rates of return on said investments. Investors believed that the investments would be used to buy farm-related equipment to satisfy contracts and produce substantial profits.
Gentry mislead a slew of investments, which included customers, friends, acquaintances and even family members. Many resided in the White Country area of Tennessee. He led these individuals to believe that he was bidding on and winning contracts from numerous states to provide them with farm-related equipment through his tractor supply company.
Over the course of the scheme, Gentry managed to con more than 50 individuals out of $43 million. Investors sustained more than $10 million in financial loss. Despite providing investors with assurances of significant returns, Gentry admitted he never intended to use the funds as promised. Instead, a portion of the money was used to fund his lifestyle and to acquire certain assets, including real estate and vehicles.
In March of 2016, Gentry used funds to start up a new business, Gentry Auto, which operated as a used car lot. Between March 24, 2016 to December 6, 2016, Gentry transferred more than $365,000 in investor funds from his tractor supply company to the Gentry Auto business.
Gentry will be facing a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count when he is sentenced by Judge AletaTrauger later this year. Simultaneously, the Government will attempt to seek a monetary judgement of at least $10 million to recover some of the victims’ losses. During the course of the investigation, many of Gentry’s assets were seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshals’ Service.
The assets included his businesses, farm equipment, houses, land, livestock, vehicles, and $300,000 in cash. The U.S. Marshals’ Service will put these assets up for auction in Sparta, Tennessee on August the 26th of 2017. Additional details about the auction can be found at www.txAuction.com.