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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Trans-Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas

From Pecos Daily News

Dec. 1, 1962

Estes pleads innocent to false statement

DALLAS (AP) Billie Sol Estes, looking worried and a little heavier, pleaded innocent Friday to federal charges of giving the Commodity Credit Corp. false statements.

About all he said to U.S. Dist. Judge Sarah Hughes was "Yes, Ma'am."

The charge was in a three-count indictment last August for allegedly saying he owed less money than he supposedly did in official statements to the CCC in 1960 and 1961.

By agreement with U.S. Atty. Barefoot Sanders and Estes; lawyer, John Cofer, the Pecos promoter will have 70 days to file motions before a hearing is set in not less than 90 days.

Then a trial date will be set unless the charges are dismissed.

Billie Sol sat on a bench outside Mrs. Hughes chambers and talked quietly with his lawyer.

He looked concerned and frowned often.

The indictment charged that Estes told the CCC he owed $8,852,430 on Nov. 1961, when he actually owed $11,300,000; that on June 30 he said he had debts of $7,916,740 when he really owed more than $12 million; and on Dec. 31, 1960, he said his liabilities were $6,352,461 and they were actually $10,400,000.

Estes then was storing millions of bushels of wheat for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Estes answered "Yes, Ma'am," to several routine questions by Mrs. Hughes about whether he understood the charges. Then he said, "Not guilty on all three counts," when asked for his plea.

The Pecos Daily News

Dec. 7, 1962

House probers to come back in Estes case

WASHINGTON (A0) - House investigators will go to Texas next week to seek information for resumption of the Billie Sol Estes inquiry early next year.

Hames Naughton, chief counsel for a House subcommittee investigating the case, said he and several assistants would to to Pecos, Tex.He would not discuss this plans otherwise nor comment on a report that he would go to California after his Texas trip.

Pecos is the home town of Estes, bankrupt promoter recently convicted of swindling. California is the present residence of James Ralph, a former assistant secretary of agriculture fired last year for using Estes' telephone credit card.

The Pecos Daily News

Dec. 8, 1962

Estes trial Monday

EL PASO, TEX. (AP) - Billie Sol Estes, the bankrupt Pecos promoter, returns to federal court here Monday to battle a federal indictment.

The 29-count bill charges mail fraud, interstate transportation of securities taken by fraud, and conspiracy. The charges centered around hundreds of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer tanks which the government said did not exist, although fortunes in chattel mortgages were written against them.

Estes' lawyers will ask U.S. Dist. Judge R. E. Thomason to dismiss the indictment. Failing that, they will seek a change of venue to Pecos.

They also want a bill of particulars about allegations in the indictments and a severance of trial from three defendants, billed with Estes, and who entered guilty pleas.

They are Coleman McSpadden of Lubbock, and Harold E. Orr and Ruel Alexander, both of Amarillo. McSpadden and Orr got 10 years, Alexander 6.

Thomason has ordered all three to surrender Jan. 7 to start their terms.
Estes himself is under an eight-year prison sentence, assessed at Tyler, on conviction for swindling. He is free on appeal bond. Estes also faces state charges at Amarillo, accusing him of anti-trust acts.

Thomason in a separate hearing Monday will consider pleas by McSpadden, Orr and Alexander who have asked that their sentences be cut in half and delayed for a year.

The Pecos Daily News

Dec. 11, 1962

Thomason sets Estes trial March 11

Pecos to hear case involving 13 of charges

EL PASO (AP) - U.S. Dist. Judge R. E. Thomason denied a motion by Billie Sol Estes' attorneys Monday to dismiss a 290count federal criminal indictment against the bankrupt promoter.

At the same time, Thomason set March 11, 1963, as a date for the trial to begin in El Paso on 16 counts in the indictment.

Earlier in the day, he split the indictment, ordering one trial in El Paso and another in Pecos, Estes' hometown. He set no date for the Pecos trial.

Estes faces 29 counts charging mail fraud, interstate transportation of securities taken by fraud, and conspiracy.

The reason for the move, Thomason said, was that 13 counts allegedly occurred within the Pecos Division of federal court.

Judge Thomason also overruled a series of motions by defense attorney John Cofer of Austin, one of which asked for a change of venue for the entire 29-count indictment to Pecos.

Cofer also asked but was denied an order to severl the trial of Estes' co-defendants in the case who have already entered pleas of guilty to certain charges.

Thomason said no to a defense motion asking for bills of particular pertaining to specific counts in the indictment.

The judge, at the defense's request, ordered the government to produce all records and papers in its possession which were taken from Estes during the lengthy investigation.

Cofer, in requesting that a date be set for the trial, told Thomason, "the case may never be tried, but maybe the court should set a date and we can see when we start how hard it is to get a jury."

"Some of the press has quit following. us. Whereas we used to have 50 behind us, now we have only three or four," he added.

He said that by his experience in the Tyler, Tex., trial all but two of 100 prospective jurors had heard of the Estes case, although some of them said they could be impartial.

Cofer said he doubted if they were impartial and said, "I believe more time is necessary."

Thomason said that the defense would be permitted to ask for a continuance of the trial from the March 11 date if the defense felt that a continuance was necessary.

Judge Thomason granted the three co-defendants of Billie Sol Estes until Sept. 1, 1963 to return themselves in to the U.S. Marshal to begin serving their sentences.

The jurist, by request of Defense Attorney George McCarthy of Amarillo, did not act to reduce the sentences of the three defendants. The defendants are Harold Orr, sentenced to 10 years, Coleman McSpadden, 10 years; and Ruel Alexander, six years.

McCarthy asked that his request for reduction of sentence be held in abeyance. He made this statement after Judge Thomason said:

"After years in public service and especially as a judge, I have noticed that a lot of defendants get rather penitent after judgment catches up with them."

At this time McCarthy asked the judge not to make an immediate ruling on the request for reduction of sentence.

The jurist granted the stay of execution on grounds the three men are needed as key witnesses in pending civil and criminal cases in which Estes is the principal.

Asst. Atty. Gen. Rufus D. McLean said the government had no recommendation to make regarding stay of execution or a reduction of sentences.

McCarthy had asked the sentences be cut by one half.

The three men were sentenced in federal court here Sept. 20 on guilty pleas to five counts. They were to have surrendered Jan. 7 to enter prison.

In arguments for a dismissal, Cofer referred to a Bible passage, saying there is absolutely nothing in the indictment which shows the defendants joined together to commit evil.

He said that the sale of tanks was a plan in which both parties in the deal made money. He said there was no fraud in making money.

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