A White County man pleaded guilty in federal court on charges of wire fraud and money laundering after a $43 million investment scheme.
Jeffery Gentry of White County, Tennessee admitted to the scheme that left a financial loss of $10 million to more than 50 victims including his customers, friends, and family members. A majority of the victims were residents of White County.
Gentry was the owner of Gentry Brothers Tractor Supply. He was a well-known and longtime member of the community.
He promised investors they would receive high returns on contracts he was bidding on and winning in order to supply farm equipment.
"The reality was that Gentry knew there were no state contracts and no equipment had been or ever would be purchased with investor funds," Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jack Smith said in a press conference. "He admitted that he never intended to invest the funds promised, but instead use the money to subsidize his lifestyle and amass a worth of substantial amount of money including numerous tracts of real estate and vehicles."
On Thursday, he appeared before a federal judge with about a dozen of his victims in court. No one wanted to appear on camera, but a few said they're now more worried if they will see any of the money they lost.
"What makes this crime particularly troubling, it was perpetrated because of the trust these folks had in Gentry. Many of these investors suffered life-altering financial loss from which they will likely not recover," Smith added.
Gentry admitted to using investor funds to start a used car lot business called Gentry Auto.
The scheme lasted for four years before the Sparta Police Department referred the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The case was also investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service.
The U.S. Marshals Service has the task of seizing Gentry's assets and liquidating them.
The agency has set up a public auction at 759 Millers Point Road in Sparta on Saturday, August 26 at 10 a.m.
You can visit txauction.com to learn more about the auction.
Gentry will be sentenced at 2 p.m. on November 27. He could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.