Cypress Creek CEO stepping down in wake of questions - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Cypress Creek CEO stepping down in wake of questions

James Lawhorne and his supporters during an interview with WAFF. James Lawhorne and his supporters during an interview with WAFF.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The owner of Cypress Creek Organic Farms said he's stepping down because of his criminal past.

The owner, James Lawhorne, had about 50 supporters with him during a scheduled interview with WAFF Tuesday. The interview was requested after the Better Business Bureau issued an alert on Cypress Creek Organic Farms last week.

The company, at this point, has no complaints on file with the BBB, only questions from the BBB that have not been answered.

Cypress Creek asks prospective affiliate farmers to invest $12,950 for a greenhouse, 300 tomato plants, training and organic certification. 

WAFF began asking questions after the BBB issued an alert. The BBB said it wants proof farmers have made $25,000 growing tomatoes as the company claims in its radio ad. Federal law says companies have to back up such claims.

In 1987, Lawhorne used the alias Paul Rodgers to open a bank account for a business in North Carolina called Videoland.

After getting checks for the account - he altered check to read "Cashier's check" - and then used those check to make purchases at businesses. He wrote checks for more than the amount in the account, including one for more than $12,000.

The indictment included 10 counts of bank fraud. He pleaded guilty to two counts and was placed on probation and ordered to pay more than $34,000 in restitution.

Currently, Lawhorne faces four criminal charges in Rutherford County, Tennessee.

The circuit clerk at the courthouse in Murfreesboro said he faces three counts of forgery and one count of criminal simulation.

Lawhorne has a hearing on these charges in January.

His supporters today told us they don't care about his criminal past.

Lawhorne sent WAFF a text message after he told me he would consult with his attorney on his radio ad and website, now he plans to take down the $25,000 claim.

He also told us, because of his past he would stepping down as CEO of the company.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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