MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The man behind a failed valley business is behind bars. James Lawhorne, the CEO of Cypress Creek Organic Farms, is currently sitting in a Cherokee County jail in South Carolina. This after highway patrol arrested him for DUI and having an open container. It happened Friday on Highway 18.
WAFF-48 has been investigating Lawhorne since last year, when hundreds of Valley farmers lost thousands after buying into growing tomatoes for Cypress Creek Organic Farms. Lawhorne claimed they could make thousands. That never happened and the business crumbled. Lawhorne still owes two dozen former farmers in Alabama $228,000 from a default judgment in a civil lawsuit.
WAFF-48 got word this week, that yet another business shut its doors Monday with Lawhorne at the helm in Concord, North Carolina called WormzOrganic. The company promised to provide the worms, growers would then produce the soil and turn a profit on sales. Now they can't find Lawhorne or their money. Lawhorne admitted to using an alias Jim Gilley to hide what happened to his failed business in Alabama from folks in North Carolina. He was picked up in a WormzOrganic vehicle by South Carolina state troopers.
Lawhorne also has an active warrant in Rutherford County, Tennessee after failing to show up for court in his forgery case. According to court documents, he's been ordered to pay restitution after getting indicted on three counts of forgery back in 2006. A judge ordered Lawhorne to pay restitution.
Tennessee resident 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. Lawhorne has only paid a fraction of what Pflanzer is owed.
Lawhorne will stay in jail in South Carolina until he can be extradited to Tennessee.