Billie Sol Estes

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Person.png Billie Sol Estes   SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(fraudster)
Billie Sol Estes.png
BornJanuary 10, 1925
Clyde, Texas
DiedMay 14, 2013 (Age 88)
Granbury, Texas, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Criminal charge
Swindling Fraud, Interstate transportation of securities taken by fraud, Conspiracy, Mail fraud
Parents • John Estes
• Lillian Estes
Children5
Interests • Henry Marshall
• Lyndon B. Johnson
• JFK
Texas businessman connected to fraud involving his friend and future U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, and a string of murders, including John F. Kennedy.

Billie Sol Estes was an American businessman and financier best known for his involvement in a business fraud scandal that complicated his ties to friend and future U.S. President Lyndon Johnson.

On 9th August, 1984, Estes' lawyer, Douglas Caddy, wrote to Stephen S. Trott at the U.S. Department of Justice. In the letter Caddy claimed that Estes, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mac Wallace and Clifton C. Carter had been involved in the murders of Henry Marshall, George Krutilek, Harold Orr, Ike Rogers, Coleman Wade, Josefa Johnson, John Kinser and John F. Kennedy. Caddy added: "Mr. Estes is willing to testify that LBJ ordered these killings, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murders."[1]

Fraud schemes

In the late 1950s, Estes was heavily involved in the Texas anhydrous ammonia business. He produced mortgages on nonexistent ammonia tanks by convincing local farmers to purchase them on credit, sight unseen, and leasing them from the farmers for the same amount as the mortgage payment, paying them a convenience fee as well. He used the fraudulent mortgage holdings to obtain loans from banks outside Texas who were unable to easily check on the tanks.

At the same time, United States Department of Agriculture began controlling the price of cotton, specifying quotas to farmers. The program included an acreage allotment that normally was not transferable from the land it was associated with, but which could be transferred if the original land was taken by eminent domain.

Estes worked out a method to purchase large numbers of cotton allotments by dealing with farmers who had been dispossessed of land through eminent domain. He convinced the farmers to purchase land from him in Texas and transfer their allotments there, with a mortgage agreement delaying the first payment for a year. Then he would lease the land and allotments back from the farmer for $50 per acre. Once the first payment came due, the farmer would intentionally default and the land would revert to Estes; in effect, Estes had purchased the cotton allotments with the lease fees. However, because the original sale and mortgage were a pretext rather than a genuine sale, it was illegal to transfer the cotton allotments this way. Estes, however, a smooth talker revered by many of his fellow members of the Churches of Christ, asserted the allegations as politics.[2]

Murder of Henry Marshall

In 1960 Henry Marshall was asked to investigate the activities of Billie Sol Estes. Marshall discovered that over a two year period, Estes had purchased 3,200 acres of cotton allotments from 116 different farmers. Marshall wrote to his superiors in Washington on 31st August, 1960, that: "The regulations should be strengthened to support our disapproval of every case (of allotment transfers)".[1]

When he heard the news, Billie Sol Estes sent his lawyer, John P. Dennison, to meet Marshall in Robertson County. At the meeting on 17th January, 1961, Marshall told Dennison that Estes was clearly involved in a "scheme or device to buy allotments, and will not be approved, and prosecution will follow if this operation is ever used." Marshall was disturbed that as a result of sending a report of his meeting to Washington, he was offered a new post at headquarters. He assumed that Bille Sol Estes had friends in high places and that they wanted him removed from the field office in Robertson County. Marshall refused what he considered to be a bribe.[1]

A week after the meeting between Marshall and Dennison, A. B. Foster, manager of Billie Sol Enterprises, wrote to Clifton C. Carter, a close aide to Lyndon B. Johnson, telling him about the problems that Marshall was causing the company. Foster wrote that "we would sincerely appreciate your investigating this and seeing if anything can be done." Over the next few months Marshall had meetings with eleven county committees in Texas. He pointed out that Billie Sol Estes scheme to buy cotton allotments were illegal. This information was then communicated to those farmers who had been sold their cotton allotments to Billie Sol Enterprises.[1]

On 3rd June, 1961, Marshall was found dead on his farm by the side of his Chevy Fleetside pickup truck. His rifle lay beside him. He had been shot five times with his own rifle. County Sheriff Howard Stegall decreed that Marshall had committed suicide. No pictures were taken of the crime scene, no blood samples were taken of the stains on the truck (the truck was washed and waxed the following day), and no check for fingerprints were made on the rifle or pickup.[1]

Marshall's wife (Sybil Marshall) and brother (Robert Marshall) refused to believe he had committed suicide and posted a $2,000 reward for information leading to a murder conviction. The undertaker, Manley Jones, also reported: "To me it looked like murder. I just do not believe a man could shoot himself like that." The undertaker's son, Raymond Jones, later told the journalist, Bill Adler in 1986: "Daddy said he told Judge Farmer there was no way Mr. Marshall could have killed himself. Daddy had seen suicides before. JPs depend on us and our judgments about such things. we see a lot more deaths than they do. But in this case, Daddy said, Judge Farmer told him he was going to put suicide on the death certificate because the sheriff told him to." As a result, Lee Farmer returned a suicide verdict: "death by gunshot, self-inflicted."[1]

Sybil Marshall hired an attorney, W. S. Barron, in order to persuade the Robertson County authorities to change the ruling on Marshall's cause of death. One man who did believe that Marshall had been murdered was Texas Ranger Clint Peoples. He had reported to Colonel Homer Garrison, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, that it "would have been utterly impossible for Mr. Marshall to have taken his own life."[1]

Peoples also interviewed Nolan Griffin, a gas station attendant in Robertson County. Griffin claimed that on the day of Marshall's death, he had been asked by a stranger for directions to Marshall's farm. A Texas Ranger artist, Thadd Johnson, drew a facial sketch based on a description given by Griffin. Peoples eventually came to the conclusion that this man was Mac Wallace, the convicted murderer of John Kinser.[1]

Conviction

In 1963 Estes was tried and convicted on charges related to the fraudulent ammonia tank mortgages on both federal and state charges and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. His state conviction was later overturned by the United States Supreme Court in Estes v. Texas. His appeal hinged upon the alleged impossibility of a fair trial due to the presence of television cameras and broadcast journalists in the courtroom. He prevailed by a 5–4 vote. Estes was paroled in 1971. Eight years later, he was convicted of other fraud charges and served four more years.

LBJ and JFK

Billie Sol Estes was released from prison in December, 1983. Three months later he appeared before the Robertson County grand jury. He confessed that Henry Marshall was murdered because it was feared he would "blow the whistle" on the cotton allotment scam. Billie Sol Estes claimed that Marshall was murdered on the orders of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was afraid that his own role in this scam would become public knowledge.[1]

On 9th August, 1984, Estes' lawyer, Douglas Caddy, wrote to Stephen S. Trott at the U.S. Department of Justice. In the letter Caddy claimed that Estes, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mac Wallace and Clifton C. Carter had been involved in the murders of Henry Marshall, George Krutilek, Harold Orr, Ike Rogers, Coleman Wade, Josefa Johnson, John Kinser and John F. Kennedy. Caddy added: "Mr. Estes is willing to testify that LBJ ordered these killings, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murders."[1]



References

  1. a b c d e f g h i j This section is from Spartacus Educational>https://spartacus-educational.com/JFKestes.htm
  2. Garrett, Leroy (April 1, 1962). "The church of Billy Sol Estes". Restoration Review. 2 (4). Denton, Texas. Garrett returned to the story with articles in several later volumes.