A Lonoke County man is accused of fraud. Police say he takes VIN numbers off cars. Detectives have been working the case for months.
Edgar Parris says he is innocent and has no idea why police showed up last Friday to take car parts and vehicles off his property. Now, he wants some answers.
“Anybody that knows me knows better, so I guess we'll go to court and hash this thing out and beat each other's fingers off, we'll see what I am. But I just assume they don't color me Jesse James until after court," says Parris.
Parris says he grew up in Lonoke County, has run his transmission shop for decades, and would never want to make trouble. But last Friday he was arrested for fraud.
The Lonoke County Sheriff's report says detectives found a stolen vehicle and six others with no VIN number.
Lt. Keenan Carter says, "Mr. Parris had on his property that was a blue Chevy pick up truck, that we recovered a white pick up truck in Searcy that was stolen from Cabot and we have traced the numbers back to a vehicle that Mr. Parris had on the back of his property."
Lieutenant Carter says Parris may have been, whether knowingly or unknowingly, switching VIN numbers on stolen cars, often driven by drug dealers.
Carter says, "In relations to some narcotics cases dealing with meth has lead us to this information here and following it out lead us to Mr. Parris and his place on 321 in Lonoke County."
But Parris says he knows nothing of that, and that his trusting customers often times drop vehicles off when he's not here with a note for him about what work needs to be done.
Parris says, "Here we go, this is how they do it. Keys in the ignition. This is Joe Hicks, phone number and cell number; this is the way they do. They’ve known me all my life; I grew up in this community. I’ve known everybody here all my life."
One of Parris' customers was at the shop to pick up his truck before the work on it was complete. He told Today’s THV, he won't leave it with someone like Parris after he found out about the arrest.
Some of Parris' other customers have promised to tell the judge assigned to the case what a good man he is.
Press Release from Lonoke County Sheriff's Department on recent theft arrests:
On August 3, 2007, Lt. Keenan Carter received information in reference to stolen property which was located at Edgar Parris’ Transmission Shop on Hwy. 321 in Austin, AR. An investigation was initiated and Lt. Keenan Carter, Lt. Steve Finch, Det. Matt Edwards, Det. Michele Stracener and Det. Patrick Copeland responded to transmission shop. Recovered vehicles included a 1999 Ford F250 Super Duty, Chevy Extended Cab Pickup, Chrysler Sebring, Pontiac Grand Prix, Dodge Daytona, White Mazda and a Jeep Wrangler. Six of the recovered vehicles did not have vin plates. The total value of the recovered items were approximately $40,000.00. Edgar Parris, owner of the transmission was placed under arrest and bonded out shortly after.