Former tomato company CEO awaits extradition - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Former tomato company CEO awaits extradition

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James Lawhorne faces charges in SC and a trial in TN. (Source: Cherokee Co. SC Jail) James Lawhorne faces charges in SC and a trial in TN. (Source: Cherokee Co. SC Jail)

The man behind a failed Tennessee Valley tomato business is awaiting extradition to Tennessee.

Over the weekend, authorities in Cherokee County, South Carolina arrested James Lawhorne. The former Chief Executive Officer of Cypress Creek Organic Farms faces charges including DUI and having an open container.

His company shut down last year, leaving investors at a loss. Law enforcement in Tennessee also had an unrelated warrant issued for his arrest, and until now, no one knew where he was.

Those with a lawsuit against Lawhorne here in Alabama are especially interested in this arrest. There are two dozen farmers who were awarded $228,000 in a civil lawsuit - money they say they lost when they invested with Lawhorne. They hope this time, they can keep track of him and get their money back.

Lawhorne is connected to another business in North Carolina, called Wormz Organic. Like his tomato business, the company promised to provide worms; growers would then produce the soil and turn a profit. Growers in that state are now at a loss after workers went on strike, shutting the facility down after finding out Lawhorne was hiding under the alias of Jim Gilley.

It is not the first time Lawhorne has used an alias. In the past year, we have tried to put James Lawhorne's past together.

In 1987, he went by Paul Rodger, and was indicted on 10 counts of bank fraud. He opened up bogus bank accounts for a business, also in North Carolina, called Videoland. He pleaded guilty to two counts and was placed on probation, and ordered to pay more than $34,000 in restitution.

He was also the CEO of Macarosea, a dietary supplement company he said fizzled out. Arc Bunkers is a company geared towards Doomsday preppers to build underground shelters - he said they just sell them. He is also connected with a coupon book company called United Promotions - a company which was placed under an alert by the Better Business Bureau.

Lawhorne will stay in the South Carolina jail until he can be extradited to Tennessee to face his forgery case. The warrant was issued after he was a no-show in court. He must pay the $1,400 bond on the DUI charge before that can happen.

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