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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Announces Two Lauderdale County Men Charged In Scrapyard Metal Scandal

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – Nick Wright, age 43 and Jerry Vaden, age 43, both of Gates, Tenn., were indicted last week by a federal grand jury on charges of mail fraud, structuring cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements, false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice, announced Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee and 25th District Attorney General Mike Dunavant.

The twelve-count indictment alleges that beginning in June 2013 and continuing until February 2014, Wright, owner of Wrights Auto Parts and Metals LLC, located in Gates, Tennessee, subcontracted with Vaden, owner of Vaden Trucking, also of Gates, Tennessee, to supply drivers to remove scrap metals from Apex Tool Group (Apex) in Springdale, Arkansas and deliver it to Wright’s scrapyard. Prior to weighing loads obtained from Apex, Wright would allegedly have a portion of the scrap metal removed from each load and then prepare invoices and checks to be mailed to Apex which falsely represented the true weight of the load removed from their facility. It is further alleged that Wright would then reload the scrap metal he had previously removed onto one of Vaden’s trucks and have it driven to other scrapyards to be sold.

It is also alleged that Wright would deposit the proceeds from the resale of the scrap metal in his business bank account and attempt to avoid the reporting requirements of transactions over $10,000 by structure his deposits as a “less cash transaction.” Wright would receive cash back in amounts just under $10,000. Wright and Vaden both allegedly made false and fraudulent statements to federal agents during the course of the criminal investigation.

Wright and Vaden have been charged with eight counts of mail fraud, one count of structuring cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements, one count of making false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice If convicted they face up to 45 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

U.S. Attorney Stanton praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the 25th District Attorney General’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted for the government by Special Assistant United States Attorney Samuel Stringfellow.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Updated March 19, 2015