The Pecos Independent and Enterprise
May 3, 1962
Estes entanglement continues
to resurrect new angles
Developments in the endless empire collapse of Billie Sol Estes tumbled over each other rapidly this week in Pecos and El Paso.
Judge R.E. Thomason stated in El Paso yesterday that he expects to set a date today for the Estes creditor's meeting. The receiver, Harry Moore and Allen Poage of El Paso went to Washington yesterday in connection with the grain storage bonds.
In the meantime, a suit was filed in 143rd District Court in Pecos yesterday which used a new tactic in suing Estes.
Nearly a month ago, Federal Dist. Judge R.E. Thomason placed Estes' agricultural empire in receivership and froze present and future civil suits against him.
But yesterday, a suit was filed against Estes among others. The petition cited the freeze order which was filed so Estes will become a defendant as soon as the order freeze expires. Attorneys speculated that other such suits may follow.
Estes, indicted on federal fraud charges in connection with mortgages on anhydrous ammonia fertilizer tanks and applicators, has several suits pending against him. Most were filed by farmers who signed mortgages and notes.
The suit filed yesterday also asked the mortgages and promissory notes be canceled and charged they were procured by misrepresentation and fraud.
Filed in behalf of J.J. Taber of Culberson County, the suit involves chattel mortgages totaling $308,350.40.
The defendants include Billie Sol Estes, Billie Sol Estes Enterprises, the Farmers Co., Superior Manufacturing Co., Lubbock Machine and Supply Inc., Associates Investment Co., Caprock Investment Co., General Leasing of Fort Wayne Inc., Walter E. Heller and Co., Ruel E. Alexander, Thomas A. Rogers, Pioneer Finance Co. and CIT Corp.
A hearing was also held here yesterday in federal district court under federal judge Adrian Spears concerning another suit against Estes.
The defendants, Estes, et al, had asked the suit, first of the several filed in connection with Estes' activities, be moved into federal court.
Judge Spears ruled for the plaintiffs and placed it in the jurisdiction of 143rd District Court here.
The suit lists J.C. Barnes Sr., J.C. Barnes Jr., Russell J. Ramsland, W.F. Wynn, J.C. Williamson and Williamson Petroleum Co., all of Midland, as plaintiffs and pertains to chattel mortgages and other notes on nearly 4,000 anhydrous ammonia tanks.
Still another development in the many-sided case developed here Tuesday when Bill Mattox, vice chairman of the Reeves County ASC board, released an official statement at a press conference.
Mattox issued the statement to clear the skirts of his part in the local ASC office and to present the facts in relation to the emminent domain procedure of transferring cotton allotments.
Estes, in the amount of 1,804 acres, and six other Reeves County farmers with some 712 acres between them, are involved in this type of transaction through the local office. Each of the seven farmers involved signed a government form SCC-179, which stated that there was no subterfuge and no side contracts involved.
The Reeves County ASC office could only then approve the transaction because they must operate under the regulations handed down to them.
Since some irregularities have been found in some cases, each of the seven will have to file a petition to the district ASC committee as this burden of proof now lies upon the purchaser and seller themselves.
As of this afternoon, only one farmer involved had filed a petition.
In regard to the personal publicity Mattox recently received in connection with the letter written by Estes to Washington recommending him for the state ASC committee, Mattox stated that he did not solicit the position of State Committeeman, but was encouraged by many friends who knew his worth to the ASC.
Mattox further stated that he understood he was eliminated by Vice-President Lyndon Johnson solely because of geographic location.
Mattox also said he was not involved with Estes in his business and did not purchase any tanks, but was exposed to the proposition and did not think it was a sound business deal at the time.
Mattox reported that he has always maintained a friendly and courteous attitude toward Estes and that they both have mutual friends. Several times their views and policies were directly opposite. Mattox defeated Estes in an ASC election in 1957 and again in a school board election in 1961.
Another development since Monday was a denial of a motion seeking to allow sale of farm property to satisfy a $90,000 debt.
The motion was made in El Paso before Judge R.E. Thomason by Attorney Richard Naylor of Pecos in behalf of W.T. Ferguson Jr. of Pecos who sold Billie Sol Estes and his brother, Word Estes, farm land on which payment was defaulted and on which Ferguson testified $90,000 was due.
Pecos Independent and Enterprise
May 10, 1962
Charges, investigations, suits continue
Pecos continued to make headlines throughout the country this week, as new aspects of the Billie Sol Estes entanglement came to the front.
Setting up offices in the federal building in Pecos this week are two members of Sen. John L. McClellan's rackets committee from Washington, to conduct further investigation concerning the Estes case.
New information released today included a statement from a Republican Congressman from Kansas who says he has information that five million bushels of wheat was sent from Kansas to Texas elevators owned by Estes. The storage charge per year on the wheat would be about $670,000.
Congressman Robert Dole says the Kansas transfer of the wheat refutes the story of a Dallas Agriculture Department official. He is speaking in regard to the claim by C.H. Mosely in a recent talk that he had sole charge of Estes' grain storage.
Dole stated today that the Kansas grain was shipped across Commodity Office lines and could have been shipped out of the state only on direction of someone from Washington.
In the meantime, Bill Mattox, elected vice president of the ASC committee for Reeves County, received notice of his suspension from the state ASC committee. Mattox stated yesterday that he was to be granted a hearing on May 22 in College Station with the state committee and intends "to put my cards on the table."
Mattox also stated that the state committee had indicated to him that the directive for his dismissal came from Washington in January with Estes in connection with the eminent domain acreage.
Mattox stated that his flight to Washington "was to seek information for all of Reeves County's farmers and was not to assist Estes."
In other developments, Jerry Holleman, with the labor department in Washington, admitted asking Estes to pay for a reception on January 12 for Lyndon Johnson and members of the labor department. Labor secretary Arthur J. Goldberg contradicted Holleman by stating that he himself paid for the reception.
The agriculture department also announced yesterday that it is assessing Billie Sol Estes $554,162.71 in marketing penalties on his 1961 cotton crop.
This cotton was grown on acreage allotments which the department said Estes had obtained in an illegal manner. The cotton was grown in three West Texas counties, one of which was Reeves County.
Four suits totaling more than $150,000 have been filed in Dallas today by Associated Investments Company against four West Texas men, which followed suits of $5,500,000 or more which were filed in Amarillo Wednesday.
The Dallas suits are seeking recovery of money the firm loaned for purchase of 175 anhydrous ammonia tanks and 24 applicators. Defendants in this suit are James W. Minnimix of Del City; John P. Gallagher of Hereford, J. Roy Crutchfield of White Deer and J.J. Taber of Van Horn. The finance company says the defendants bought the machinery from Lubbock Machinery and Supplies Company and Superior Manufacturing Company of Amarillo.
The suits in Amarillo on Wednesday were against Superior Manufacturing Company, three of whose officials are under indictment with Estes.
By Marj Carpenter
During recent weeks, many newsmen have passed through this office and through this town. These newsmen have been the pick of the lot from all over the United States. I want to say, personally, that these reporters do appreciate the many local citizens who have treated them with courtesy, and who through their cooperation have helped them to get to know the really true citizens of the town. These man are not witch hunters, but are highly qualified reporters..some of the best in the country, who go where the news is made and report it.
Pecos Independent and Enterprise
May 14, 1962
O'Donnell meets Estes in Austin
Billie Sol Estes and two of his lawyers, John Dennison of Pecos and John Cofer of Austin whisked into Austin over the weekend where they met with McClellan committee members, Chief Counsel Donald F. O'Donnell and his assistant, Paul E. Kamerick.
Although Kamerick ad earlier been in PEcos, O'Donnell never arrived here and both are reported to have made plans to return to Washington today. They leave a staff of eight to continue investigations in Pecos.
No disclosures were made concerning the Austin meeting. In the meantime, a senate subcommittee member says he knows of three government employees who have secretly volunteered information on the case.
The subcommittee is pushing ahead with its investigation into the dealings of Estes. Republican Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota says he knows of three employees of the labor and agriculture departments who have volunteered information.
Following the resignation of former Assistant Labor Secretary Jerry Holleman, who admitted accepting a thousand dollar gift from Estes, Jim Wright, a Texas congressman defeated in the senatorial race, defended Holleman as an "honest and honorable man." Wright said he could not condone the taking of gratuities by federal officials, but he knew Holleman had faced "some severe personal crises."
Wright stated that the only interest Estes apparently had in the labor department was a matter involving the use of braceros. Although made to seem insignificant, the bracero question in the Pecos area is considered of prime importance by local farmers.
Another release today made by W. Lewis David, the state executive director of the ASC committee, stated that Henry Marshall, found shot to death in Texas last summer, was the first person who gave evidence leading to the collapse of Estes' financial empire.
David said Marshall became suspicious of the Estes cotton allotments and believed Estes had "Sidebar Agreements" that are illegal under the allotment program.
However, David said Marshall had no proof. He said a farmer came to Marshall in the fall of 1969 with a copy of an agreement he had been asked to sign, but which he had not signed. No one had signed the agreement, but David said it was the first concrete evidence to back up Marshall's suspicions.
By Marj Carpenter
Heard one Pecos farmer telling around town this week that he's been trying and trying to come up with a couple of crops that he could plant that wouldn't have any government acreage allotments. And he found them. His selection -- blackeyed peas and marijuana.
Pecos Independent and Enterprise
May 17, 1962
White refuses licenses for Estes elevators
State Agriculture Commissioner John C. White added to the woes of the receivership of Billie Sol Estes yesterday when he refused to issue a state license to receivers on the grounds they represent insolvent operations and cannot show the financial responsibility required for a Texas Permit.
Other current developments include a motion filed by Will Wilson with District Court Clerk, James Drane, for leave to file suit against Billie Sol Estes, and two anti-trust suits filed against Estes, McSpadden and Commercial Solvents Corp.
In the suit against Estes and Commercial Solvents, Wilson charges conspiracy between the two violated state anti-trust laws and was linked directly with Estes' grain storage empire. Technically, penalties could climb as high as $9 million against the defendants.
A check by Internal Revenue is being made into the fact that in 1960 Estes told Agriculture Department that he had a net worth of $13 million. In the same year he told IRS he had liabilities of $3.6 million and assets less than 1/2 million dollars.
Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, ranking Republican on the rackets committee, says the committee is investigating a possible Teamster-Estes tie. According to Estes records received from Will Wilson, it was reported that correspondence and memoranda involving the Teamsters Union existed.
Investigators for the rackets committee indicated they felt phones might be tapped in Pecos, stating "Pecos, Texas, is just a little town--and they never can tell who might be listening in."
Harry Moore, receiver for the Billie Sol Estes businesses, said in telephone interview Wednesday that debts of Estes total about $32 million including some "contingent liabilities." The empire has virtually no "material assets" which are unencumbered, with the possible exception of a couple of automobiles.
More stated that the only source of revenue he had found which might be available to creditors was the government payments for storing grain but even the grain-storage payments were assigned to Commercial Solvents Corp. to pay off $5.7 million Estes owed the firm for fertilizer and other debts.
Prior to Will Wilson's two anti-trust suits, suited filed in connection with the case amounted to approximately $20.25 million.
No evidence of phone tap
"A thorough investigation has been made on all complaints regarding telephone tapping in Pecos, and no evidence has been found of violation of the law," said John Hassenflu Jr., vice-president of West Texas Communications Corporation of Pecos.
Hassenflu issued his statement after the Fort Worth Star Telegram article, under the byline of James McCartney, stated "Committee investigators in the field in Texas have been reluctant to furnish detailed reports by telephone because of fear that phone lines may be tapped. One official put it, "Pecos, Texas, is just a little town and they never can tell who might be listening in."
Hassenflu stated, "People should be aware that it is against FCC regulations for telephone companies to allow or permit listening in on telephone conversations--and all can rest assured that West Texas Communications Corporation is taking every measure to see that FCC rules and regulations are being enforced."
Local suits, national scandal follow Estes
With President John Kennedy speaking on the Estes case on nationwide television this afternoon, the importance of the avalanching case reached even greater proportions.
One of the heads that fell this week in Washington was that of James T. Ralph, who was fired by Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman for his connections with Estes.
Ralph, a Kennedy administration appointee, stepped down last February as an assistant secretary of agriculture to train as an agriculture attache in the Philippines.
Senator Ralph Yarborough was also busy trying to deny his connections with Estes this week due to accusations concerning his support by Estes.
One United State's Department of Agriculture employee's mental state even got into the news when an accusation was made that Mary Kimbrough Jones, government secretary, whose name has figured in the Billie Sol Estes case, was railroaded to a psychiatric ward. Latest information states that she is still in "an unsound mental condition" and not released as first reported.
Meanwhile, one Pecos farmer, J.S. Wofford, filed a suit for $5 million against Estes, A.B. Foster Jr., Superior Manufacturing Company and Pacific Finance claiming exemplary damages due to humiliation, loss of credit rating, due to knowing and malicious fraudulent acts. His attorney also filed a plea of privilege asking to keep the case in 143rd District Court.
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.