A former owner of Priceville Partners LLC, the same bankrupt business that caused legal problems for former Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin, on Monday pleaded guilty to two felonies.
In a plea agreement with the Alabama Securities Commission, Greg Steenson, 50, of Decatur, was sentenced to 15 years for one felony count of securities fraud and one felony count of financial exploitation of an elderly person. The sentences will run concurrently with each other and with the sentence in another pending case, according to Circuit Judge Charles Elliott’s order.
Steenson will serve a split sentence of two years in the Department of Corrections and, after that, he will be placed on probation for five years
The five-count indictment brought by the Alabama Securities Commission in Aug. 2018 charged Steenson with four Alabama Securities Act violations, including fraud in connection with the sale of securities. He was also charged with one count of financial exploitation of an elderly person.
The Securities Act violations involve Steenson's alleged misrepresentation to an investor that funds he invested would be used to buy real estate in Tennessee.
As part of the agreement, he is to pay $113,000 in restitution to three victims, and he agreed to a permanent ban from the securities industry.
The other three counts in the indictment were dismissed.
Beau Brown, an attorney with the ASC, declined comment and referred questions to the ASC office in Montgomery.
Steenson’s attorney Breck Robinson also declined to comment.
According to the ASC, the indictment charged Steenson with one count each of sale of unregistered securities, sale of securities by an unregistered agent and financial exploitation of an elderly person; and two counts of fraud in connection with the sale of securities.
The indictment alleges that in June 2015, Steenson sold an investment contract and/or participation in a profit-sharing agreement, which are defined as securities under the Alabama Securities Act, to at least one victim in Morgan County.
The investment contract/profit-sharing agreement was issued by Steenson to finance a quick “flip” of real estate, according to the ASC. Steenson allegedly misrepresented to the investor that invested funds would be used to buy real estate in Tennessee and didn’t tell the investor that the funds would not be used for that purpose, the ASC said.
Neither Steenson nor the investment contract/profit-sharing agreement he sold were registered with the ASC, as required by the Alabama Securities Act.
The victim was 60 years of age or older at the time of the alleged conduct.
Elliott told Steenson he would be allowed to serve his sentence in the Morgan County Jail, pending the disposition of the case brought against him in August 2018 by the Morgan County District’s Attorney’s office.
In that case, Steenson is charged with seven counts of first-degree theft, one count of second-degree theft and two counts of second-degree forgery. The indictment alleges that between April and December 2015, Steenson sold or traded vehicles to eight victims for which he did not hold a legal title. The victims either paid cash to Steenson or traded their vehicle, or a combination of the two, for vehicles for which the victims were unable to obtain titles. Steenson also allegedly forged the signature of two victims on title applications.
That case was set for trial this week, and Steenson has requested the case be continued and set on a future trial docket. In a motion filed Sunday, Steenson’s attorney Robinson asked for more time to review discoverable materials provided by the state after the court-imposed deadline. Also, Robinson said a motion asking for Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson to be recused as prosecutor hasn’t been ruled upon.
The motion seeking his recusal said there’s the “distinct probability of a conflict of interest” in Anderson prosecuting the case against Steenson, saying that Steenson’s former wife is a relative of Anderson’s wife and Steenson and Anderson had attended some of the same family gatherings before Steenson’s arrest in 2016.
Many of the charges against Steenson relate to his ownership of Priceville Partners, a used car and title loan business that received loans from Franklin and former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency agent Steven Ziaja.
Steenson was a 40% owner of the business from June 2013 until February 2016 and the company, also owned by Decatur resident Harold Jeffreys, filed for bankruptcy in March 2016.
Franklin was found in contempt of court when the bankruptcy led to the discovery that her $150,000 loan came from inmate-food funds that she was then prohibited by court order from using for purposes other than feeding inmates.
Steenson in 2002 pleaded guilty to a check-kiting scheme involving Heritage Bank and served 28 months in prison.