Warrant issued for former Cypress Creek Organic Farms CEO - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Warrant issued for former Cypress Creek Organic Farms CEO

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A warrant has been issued for Lawhorne, who failed to appear in a TN court on another fraud charge. A warrant has been issued for Lawhorne, who failed to appear in a TN court on another fraud charge.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A judge issues an arrest warrant Tuesday for the owner of Cypress Creek Organic Farms.

24 hours after several affiliate farmers filed a class-action lawsuit against James Lawhorne, a Tennessee judge issued an arrest warrant for him after he failed to appear in court for an unrelated fraud charge in that state.

WAFF began investigating Cypress Creek Organic farms five months ago as the Better Business Bureau issued an alert on the business. Promotional ads claimed growers could earn up to $40,000, but the BBB said Lawhorne could not prove those claims.

The civil lawsuit states the business fell apart, leaving those who invested thousands at a loss.

In September, Lawhorne said he was filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Cypress Creek Organic Farms, which has yet to happen. We have not been able to reach Lawhorne or his attorney.

Meanwhile, Lawhorne had a hearing for a separate fraud case in Tennessee dating back to 2006. He did not show for the Rutherford County update hearing. According to court documents, he has been ordered to pay restitution after being indicted on three counts of fraud. He has not been convicted but has paid partial restitution.

Mark Pflanzer said he invested more than $100,000 with Lawhorne in a communications company. He said the entire business was built on lies, and before he knew it, Lawhorne took all his money. Pflanzer fought for years to get it in court and Lawhorne has only paid a fraction of what he's owed.

"The thing that really upsets me is that I honestly believe that some of the money that I've been paid in restitution came from these other people," Pflanzer said.

Cullman County attorney Nathan Brock represents the 24 farmers who claim Cypress Creek Organic Farms and Lawhorne made numerous representations and promised high returns on their investments.

Brock believes the Tennessee case will benefit his case in Alabama, stating it will show Lawhorne has a pattern of fraudulent behavior.

"When you are advertising that you are certified and you don't even have a USDA certification yourself, that's fraud. That's not simply and innocent representation and said something they didn't mean to," said Cullman County Attorney Nathan Brock.

"A majority of our plaintiffs are very concerned about getting a return of any amount that they invested and compensation for all the efforts they made in upgrading their farms to prepare for this so they definitely want to be compensated for their injuries and it's in the forefront of their minds," added Brock.

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