The Pecos Independent and Enterprise
May 21, 1962
Estes Swiss cache rumored
Amid charges that Billie Sol Estes may have millions "salted away" in Switzerland and Brazil, the senate began meeting behind closed doors today in an effort to determine if Estes received favored treatment from government officials.
Chairman of the investigating committee, John McClellan, D-Ark., declined Saturday to give out any names, but said they may interrogate some out-of-town witnesses.
Other developments in the Estes case include:
* An Amarillo grand jury inquiry this week into the evidence gathered during a courts of inquiry held by Texas Atty. Gen. Will Wilson. Two of Wilson's assistant attorneys general were due in Amarillo Sunday and Wilson was expected to arrive Tuesday.
* Both Ralph Yarborough and J.T. Rutherford admit that they arranged and attended a meeting between agricultural officials and Estes and his attorney, John Dennison, on January 6, at which Estes protested cancellation of cotton allotments.
* District Judge John M. Barron ordered a grand jury investigation into the mystery death of Henry Marshgall "to clear the cloud connecting this with the Estes case--if there is any connection." The grand jury is expected to begin its inquiry today at Franklin, Texas.
* President KIennedy pledged his administration to a thorough cleanup of the case when he stated at his press conference Thursday, "this government is staying right on Mr. Estes' tail."
* In cancelling the two warehouse license of Estes, John C. White, state commissioner of agriculture stated, "The taxpayers have no responsibility in this thing to pay off the bills of Billie Sol Estes."
* W.P. (Bill) Mattox, vice-chairman of Reeves County ASC committee, is scheduled to appear at a hearing in College Station Tuesday. The38-year-old Pecos farmer was suspended recently after it was charged he accepted a pane trip and hotel expenses in Washingnton nfrom Estes. Mattox requested the hearing, saying he would be happy to present his side of the story.
Judge to delay contempt ruling
The ruling on a contempt of court citation against officials and representatives of Walter E. Heller and Company Inc., a large finance company, will not be forthcoming until after the Democratic primaries.
The announcement was made by District Judge J.H. Starley as a hearing on the citation got underway this morning in 143rd District Couret.
Judge Starley made the announcement after H.W. strasburger, attorney for the Heller interests, asked that politics not be made an issue in the hearing.
One of the attorneys representing Heller is M. Warlick Carr of Lubbock, a brother of Waggoner Carr who is seeking the state's attorney general post. Opposing Waggoner Carr is Tom Beavley.
Cited for contempt April 25 were Walter E. Heller and Company Inc., Robert I. Livingston of Chicago, Sidney Bloom of Chicago, Hilbert Kreeger Jr. of Chicago, Jules Green of Houston, John Foringer of Chicago, Frank Cole of Chicago, Warlick Carr, Marion T Key of Lubbock and R.B. McGowen of Monahans.
The contempt action was brought on behalf of J.C. Barnes Sr., J.C. Barnes Jr., Russell Ramsland and W.F. Wynn, all of Midland; W.B. Browder Jr. and Milton L. Bankton, Midland attorneys, filed the action.
The Barnes interests allege that Heller and Company violated terms of a temporary injunction issued April 12 by Judge Starley by not maintaining the "status quo" of notes, chattel mortgages, leases and other properties issued on anhydrous ammonia tanks.
May 24, 1962
Wilson may slate another Estes probe
Announcement of another court of inquiry by Texas Attorney General Will Wilson--with Pecos as the possible site--is expected Friday in Austin, if the court of inquiry is to be held.
Assistant Attorney General Jack Price said Thursday that the public heairng will be held by Wilson "to tie up the loose ends" in the Billie Sol Estes case.
Wilson has held courts of inquiry in Pecos, Lubbock, Amarillo and Dallas, delving into Estes' vast agriculture empire.
Out of the hearings have come information which led to grand jury indictments, a civil antitrust suit and the dismissal and resignation of three Department of Agriculture officials.
A grand jury in Amarillo is studying official transcripts of the inquiry proceedings. Frank Baughman, Potter County grand jury, has indicated that additional indictments against Estes are expected.
Meanwhile, Harry Moore, receiver for Estes' businesses, told a meeting of creditors Wednesday that every effort was being made to keep Estes' enterprises in operation.
The 37-year-old Estes, under federal and state indictments for fraud and felony theft, had little to say at the federal court proceedings. He invoked the Fifth Amendment six times.
Estes and his newest attorney, John Cofer of Austin, claimed Estes' answers might incriminate him.
Estes promised U.S. District Judge R.E. Thomason that he would file a detailed statement of assets and operations by June 15 and would appear again in El Paso for further questioning.
Moore told the court he plans to be in Washington Monday to confer with Department of Agriculture officials about modifying an order to move 42 million bushels of government grain out of elevators and warehouses owned by or connected with Estes.
George A. Barnes, assistant to Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman, said that "the lawyers would have to take a long look" at a proposal to continue storing grain in elevators farmerly controlled by Estes if government storage payments went to creditors.
Payments for grain storage have been going to Commercial Solvents Corporation, a manufacturer of chemical fertilizers, under an assignment agreement between Estes and the firm.
Judge Thomason has ruled that Moore had the right to challenge that assignment.
At the creditors meeting, Estes declined to give his occupation, location of his offices, and to state whether he turned over all books and accounts to the receiver or had assets the receiver did not know about.
He also declined to answer when asked about his list of assets and his interest in Agriculture Inc.
In other Estes developments, a grand jury is still studying evidence that an agriculture agent, Henry Marshll, was murdered.
An attempt to subpoena USDA records for the grand jury was halted Thursday when the Department of Agriculture refused to release records concerning a study into Estes' cotton allotments by Marshall.
The attorney general said he may go to court in order to get the records for the grand jury, which capitol newsmen say may delay any announcement of another court of inquiry.
Also, Bill Mattox of Pecos, a member of the Reeves County Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Committee, remains under suspicion. A Final decision to the case is expected in about two weeks.
Mattox was suspended May 9 after reports that he had accepted airplane fare and hotel accommodations from Estes.
Judge dismisses contempt action
A contempt of court citation against representatives and officials of a major finance company was dismissed and ordered stricken from the records Tuesday by Judge J.lH. Starley in 143rd District Court.
Judge Starley dismissed the citation against officers and attorneys for Walter E. Heller and Company Inc., after the parties in the litigation agreed on action.
Heller's officers and representatives were cited for contempt in a complaint filed by four Midland men. The Midland group claimed that Heller and company violated terms of a temporary injunction issued April 12 by Judge Starley.
The Midland men, J.C. Barnes Sr., J.C. Barnes Jr., Russell Ramsland and W.F. Wynn, said the Heller company took their mortrgages on anhydrous ammonia tanks in a Cook County, Illinois court and received judgments after the four had quit making payments on the tanks.
The agreement reached Tuesday stipuatede that the papers involved in the case will be moved to Pewcos and the judgment against the men revoked. The papers will then be turned over to the Texas courts.
W.F. Browder and Milton Bankston, attorneys for the Midland men, moved for the dismissal and asked that the contempt citation be stricken from the records.
Cited for contempt by the Midland men on April 25 were Walter E. Heller and Company Inc., Robert I. Livingston of of Chicago, Heller's presidnet; Sidney Bloom of Chicago, Heller's vice president; Hilbert Kreeger Jr. of Chicago, Heller's assistant secretary; John Foringer of Chicago, a Heller representative; Jules Green of Houston, Heller's southwestern representative of Chicago, a Heller attorney.
Other attorneys for the company named as defendants included M. Warlick Carr of Lubbock, Marion T. Key of Lubbock and R.B. McGowen Jr. of Monahans.
The temporary injunction grew out of a civil suit charing Billie Sol Estes of Pecos, Superior Manufacturing Company of Amarillo, Harold E. Orr of Amarillo, Walter E. Heller and Company Inc., Pacific Finance Company and Commercial Solvents Corporation withfraud in connection with sales of ammonia tanks.
Judgments returned in Cook County against the Midland men were Barnes Sr., $173,915; Barnes Jr., $367,725; Ramsland, $360,594; and Wynn, $350,757. The amounts also were garnished at the First National Bank of Chicago under the Cook County court order.
May 28, 1962
Commercial Solvents controls Farmer's Co.
Charles (Chuck) Wesson, manager of the Farmer's Co. here, a segment of the Estes' Enterprises, today told the Independent that the Farmer's Co. is now under control of Commercial Solvents Corp. of New York.
Wesson said details of the transaction have not yet been disclosed, "However, more will be known when Harry Moore returns." Moore, the court-appointed receiver of Estes' Enterprises, is reportedly in Washington, negotiating with agriculture officials there to revoke a recent proposal to remove some 42 million bushels of wheat from Estes' grain facilities.
Wesson is to continue as manager of the fertilizer firm, with Al Waldrop as assistant manager. Wesson said, effective today, "all employees this firm are on the payroll of the New York firm."
An article in Sunday's Odessa American stated that Moore received permission from Federal Judge R.E. Thomason Saturday to negotiate a contract with Commercial Solvents.
According to Wesson, details on whether or not Commercial Solvents is planning to buy the Farmer's Co., or just control its operations, is not known.
Wesson also said: "As far as I know, this is the first time Commercial Solvents has ventured into the anhydrous ammonia retail business." He said five railroad tank car loads of the fertilizer are enroute to Pecos, and would be sold at the going rate of $120 per ton.
Wesson stated he received a telephone call from Loy Evett of Commercial Solvents in New York, who said a "representative of the corporation would be in Pecos Tuesday to outline operating plans for Farmer's Co."
The Odessa American stated Commercial Solvents would gross a profit of about $8 a ton, of which $5 will be paid into Estes' estate to be used by Moore for "operating expenses."
Wesson explained that the fertilizer would be sold at $120 per ton, but "as to the amount paid into the Estes' businesses, I do not know."
There are 26 tons of anhydrous ammonia in each of the tank cars, which will fill 11 portable 1,000-gallon tanks.
While in Washingotn, Moore is reportedly to ask for a release of at least part of $1 million the U.S. government owes Estes for grain storage this year. Operations of the Estes-owned grain storage facilities is reportedly around $100,000 monthly.
Local group proposes to buy paper
J.F. Pattee and J. Robert Scott, local certified public accountants, are heading a group of local businessmen to buy the Pecos Daily News.
Pattee today said that he was acting spokesman for the group, but "could not comment on details" of the proposal to purchase the daily newspaper. Scott was out of town and not available for comment.
Those comprising the group are not known.
Charles (Chuck) Wesson, manager of the Estes-owned Farmer's Co., now under control of Commercial Solvents of New York, said there have been several proposals to buy the paper, but "very little is known."
The local business group is reported to have offered $9,200 for stock owned by Estes in the newspaper.
By Marj Carpenter
We who really love Pecos may have a hard summer of it as we travel on our regular vacation and take time out to answer questions when people find out we're from Pecos.
Of course, the happiest way out of this situation is to go ahead and tell everyone you meet of all the good things here, and that Pecos will retain its fundamental characteristics on which the town was founded.
It's not alwys easy to do what you think best about a town. Kind of like raising your own kids. It's easier to ignore when they do soething really wrong and hope it will go away, but there always comes a day of reckoning in such a procedure..lland it's really the same with a town. When something needs to be corrected, we will attempt to correct it. And I will always be thankful that the first move for correcting an unfortunate "mess" in Pecos came from within the town itselrf...that we didn't wait for it to come from elsewhere.
Many tributes have been mad ein recent weeks to
May 31, 1962
Receiver's Washington tripped unsuccessful
Harry Moore, receiver of the vast holdings of the mangled Billie Sol Estes Enterprises, today told the Independent that his trip to Washington this week, negotiating with Agriculture secretary Orville Freeman, was an "unsuccessful" venture.
Moore's big issue with the secretary was to secure a modification on a recent proposal to remove some 42 million bushels of wheat from the Estes-owned grain facilities. Freeman refused.
A second point on the same issue, Moore said, was to restore the recently revoked federal licenses to receive grain to the storage plants.
Again Freeman refused.
"However," commented More, "the Secretary and I did reach an agreement to release a portion of the $1 million due the Estes Enterprises for storage this year but what money is released would be channelled through the courts."
Moore said he expected action to being "very soon."
"Between $100,000 and $120,000 is needed monthly to continue operating the storage facilities," said Moore. "The secretary understands this, so we should expect a release of at least a portion of the money in the near future," he added.
Of the three proposals Moore presented the Secretary, he said we reached a "respectable disagreement."
"I recognize that Freeman has a tough job, and respect him in these major decisions,": he said.
Moore said his next course of action would be to report to the court-appointed Estes Credit Committee. The committee';s next scheduled meeting is June 14. Bill Moore said he would contact each member individually, which may result in a special-called meeting.
Estes is under federal indictment alleging fraud.
Moore said the 42 million bushels of wheat will be removed from Estes plants over an 18-month period. He added that Secretary Freeman refused to comment on what plan of action the Agriculture Department would take in executing the order.
Receiver praises action to release Farmers Co.
Receiver of the shattered Estes Empire, Harry Moore, today said signing a contract with Commercial Solvents of New York, to control the Estes-owned Farmer's Co. here "was the best transaction we could have made."
The receiver said four other anhydrous ammonia companies wanted control of Farmer's Co., but Commercial Solvents "offered the better deal."
The New York firm agreed to lease equipment and operations of Farmer's Co. on a $5 per ton agreement which will go into the Estes Enterprises, with a guaranteed minimum payment of $8,500 monthly.
Moore said the contrct with Commercial Solvents was issued in good faith on both sides, with a cancellation privilege for both sides. He also stqated that he (Moore) could challenge the firmn's operations at any time.
Asked if other of the 24 businesses in which Estes had stock interest would be liquidated in this manner, Moore said,
"We will take these other businesses one at a time, carefully studying their records, before deciding what should be done."
Paul Jolly, Atlanta, Ga., was in Pecos Wednesday to determine what course is necessary in the operation of Farmer's Co. and other outlets for anhydrous ammonia previously in the hands of Estes.
Few tanks located, Moore says
Between 1,600 and 2,000 anhydrous ammonia tanks can be located or accounted for, Harry Moore, receiver for the fallen Estes empire, said today.
Investigations by the Pecos INdependent revealed some 33,500 tanks used as chattel mortgagtes, amounting to approximately $32 million.
Moore is trying to salvage the Crushed Empire that was reportedly built in part from money Billie Sol Estes received from fertilizer tanks that do not exist.
Estes is now under federal indictment for fraud, and state indictments in felony theft.
June 7, 1962
Dr. John Dunn supplies Estes info
John Dunn, 35-year-old Pecos physician, confirmed in a prepared statement Tuesday that he submitted documentary evidence pertaining to the Estes case to the FBI in March, 1961.
Dunn's statement followed the publication of press reports from Washington based on "high government sources."
He acknowledged that "he prepared and submitted documentary evidence in the Billie Sol Estes case to the Executive Branch of the Federal Government more than one year ago and subsequently to the legislative branch in Washingotn and to Texas State authorities."
Dr. Dunn further stated he felt the information released to the New York Herald-Tribune was a violation of public confidence by the FBI, and that the reports were confidential and not intended for release to the press.
Democrats today at House Subcommittee hearings in Washington blasted Robert E. Manuel, a staff attorney for allegedly leaking a secret Agriculture Department report on the Estes case to the New York Herald Tribune.
Demo Representatie Ross Bass of TEnnessee demanded dismissal of Manuel. "Either he goes, or I go, and I don't plan to leave," Ross told reporters.
At the time the evidence was submitted, Dr. Dunn was a stockholder in Trans-Pecos Industries Inc., a Texas Corporation which publishes the Pecos Independent.
The nature of the evidence was known to the mjajority of the Independent directors at the time if was submitted.
Present directors and stockholders of the Pecos Independent denied knowledge of collaboration between Oscar Griffin and Dr. Dunn on the Estes case after Griffin arrived in Pecos - at that time Don Kretsinger was editor of the Independent.
The directors further stated that all of the data pertaining to tank chattel mortgages in Reeves County was collected independently and under their director for the purpose of verification even though substantually, the same data was already in their possession.
As previously stated in a letter to Tommy Thompson, editor of the Amarillo Globe-Times, and verified by letter by Oscar Griffin, the Independent stated:
"It must be understood that many people and friends of the Independent assisted in arrivfing at the conclusions drawn by us prior to publication of these (tank) articles. These people, because of their position, or desires, cannot be named,"
The owners further stated: "The decision for publication of the tank series rested solely with the board of directors and no others."
"After fully considering public apathy toward the flagrant business operations of Billie Sol Estes and after watching the value of the ... tank mortgages grow to a fantastic figure, we feared that further disregard for the general economic status of the area would lead to economic devastation," the directors said.
High Bidder to receive Estes' stock
Ninety-two and one-half shares of stock in the Pecos Printing Company, publisher of the Pecos Daily News, will be sold to the highest bidder, subject to the approval of the U.S. District Court, at the office of the Pecos Daily News at 10 a.m. Monday, according to Estes' receiver Harry Moore.
Sale will be on a cash basis, the receiver said.
Also included in the sale will be the option rights carried by 315 shares of stock held in escrow at a Pecos bank. According to Mr. Allen Poage, El Paso attorney for the receivership, voting rights in this stock is held by Estes subject to indebtedness due the former owners of Pecos Printing Company.
Mr. Poage emphasized that this is an auction sale of stock in a going corporation, Pecos Printing Company, and there will be no sale of individual presses or other equipment.
The receiver has received one bid of $9,200.
As confirmed by Moore and Poage, the stock purchaser will be obligated to assume all indebtedness of the corporation with the exception of the debt to the Estes receivership which will be transferred to a "capital investment acocunt."
Persons interested in the stock purchase can inspect the financial statement at the offices of Estes Enterprises.
Bureau Cites Estes in farm legislation
The widely-publicized Billie Sol Estes case, involving the manipulation of cotton acreage allotments, recently was used as an example to blast Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman's proposed marketing order for turkeys.
A release from the Texas Farm Bureau office in Waco today quoted Charles B. Shuman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federaltion, as saying:
"Establishment of a nationwide turkey marketing order would subject an entire industry to marketing controls and ruther extend federal rationing of the right to produce farm products."
Shuman said one aspect of the Bilie Sol Estes case "involving the manipulation of cotton acreage allotments demonstrates the monetary value of government-allocated right to produce and market farm products."
"An acreage allotment," he continued, "can mean an increase of from $100 to $200 or more per acre in market price of cotton land or many thousands of dollars in the value of a farm. This artifical increase in value rewards speculators, but penalizes young farmers and those who need to expand their operations to get enough volume to make a decent living,:" Shuman said.
Shuman said if the secretary is successful in his efforts to dictate the operations of the turkey industry, "similar orders to establish production controls can be expected for other commodities including eggs, broilers, potatoes and milk."
Again referring to the Estes case, Shuman said,: "Counting of the ballots (to be xast on the referendum June 18-22) is to be under the complete control of the ASC the same agency of government that is involved in the Estes case."
Referring to Estes a third time, Shuman said: "To the average consumer, the entire fantastic scheme as proposed by the government planners may seem like an "Alice in Wonderland" story, but unfortunately it is all too real. Anyone who says that can't possiblyhappen in America has only to read the dialy accountgs of the almost unbelievabvle Bille Sol Estes case as it unfolds."
Shuman pointed out that if the marketing order becomes effective, rights to market turkeys--like acreage allotments--will become capital assets subject to political manipulation.
June 7, 1962
The recent disclosure that Dr. John Dunn did in fact submit to the FBI information concerning the Estes case as long ago as March, 1961, is nothing moe than another facet of the many sided Estes entanglemnent, but to some in Pecos, it is another weapon which aid their cause to promote discontentment.
Why are there those who are so quick to aid this cause? If you were to ask one involved you would undoubtgedly receive the answer that certain people live in this town who are "not good for the town."
May we advance the thought that political or economic cnsierations bear the weight of motivation in 99.9% of those expressing such an opinioln.
Those of us who are willing to look beneath the surface of the immediate unrest could, with little effort, recount the very few times these same people have been guilty of philanthropy or outright unselfish efforts designed to promote the general well-being of our community.
Until those in positions of responsibility and influence band together with the thought of promoting the general well0-being and economic welfare of the community this unrest will continue.
Shifting our state of mind to this effort requires sacrifice. If the present responsible citizens who are in the forefront of influence are unable to make this sacrifice -- then we should seek out others who are willing.
There are, after all, some 12,600 good people in Pecos. Surely in this number there are some with leadership ability who can and are willing to represent all.
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