Mayor of Century, Florida, 'disappointed and embarrassed' by situation at 500-job Century Lumber and Land following arrest of boss, associate, on securities fraud charges

LOS ANGELES , December 5, 2011 () – The mayor of Century in Florida, Freddie McCall, says he is "disappointed and embarrassed" by the situation at Century Lumber & Land, a proposed venture to revive the town's shuttered Alger-Sullivan Lumber complex and create 500 jobs.

James Craft of Century planned to open a railroad crosstie-treating business at the plant, but has since been charged with securities fraud, the Pensacola News Journal reported on Dec. 3.

McCall said he tried to talk Craft out of holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the venture on Oct. 22 last year and had told Craft to wait until he had the money in his hand before going ahead.

The Alabama Securities Commission has accused Craft and his associate Glenn Gilman of Southside, Alabama, of soliciting investors for the venture without the credentials to do so. The Commission said its records indicated that neither Craft nor his business were registered to conduct securities business in the state.

For many months, Craft responded to enquiries from the Pensacola News Journal saying he had the money for the project, and indicating that there was just one more obstacle to overcome. But on Sept. 23 he was arrested by Santa Rosa County sheriff's deputies and extradited to Etowah County, Alabama, where he was jailed on securities charges.

The two men have since posted US$25,000 bonds, said Russell Bedsole, spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

McCall and other officials subsequently discovered that Craft never owned the Alger-Sullivan property, although he had indicated he had acquired it from its partnership of owners.

The property is listed at $2.75 million by EXIT Realty NFI, and is available for sale. EXIT spokesman Gary Watson said Craft never took ownership of the property, and that its current owners had been "messing around" with Craft for two years. According to Watson, the sellers were convinced that Craft would pull through, but Craft came up with all sorts of excuses as to why he had not closed the sale.

The primary source of this article is the Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola, Florida, on Dec. 3, 2011.

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