Mon
Jul 17 2006
07:19 am

Here's a media roundup on yesterday's Market Square raid. (See yesterday's post for our initial report and photos from the scene.)

WATE reports that Scott West "was arrested on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering." They also say West's brother Mike West and a sister-in-law have been charged. The businesses involved were Preservation Pub, Oodles, and Earth to Old City. A U.S. District Attorney told them details of the investigation are sealed.

WBIR reports that Scott West was arrested on "federal charges of interstate transportation of marijuana and related charges involving money laundering." They also report that "the federal government has filed papers to review and potentially seize" West's businesses, but that "day-to-day operations would not be affected."

WVLT reports that Mike and Scott West are both in custody, charged with "conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering."

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that "federal authorities have filed the initial forfeiture pleadings to seize businesses and property owned by Scott West," which West's lawyer says his client "will be vigorously opposing." He also said West's business will remain open. According to the article, City of Knoxville spokesperson Margie Nichols said "the city does not condone any alleged illegal activity but would like to see the businesses remain open." She also said that federal authorities told her they would "make every effort to keep them operating."

The News Sentinel has another article on the West family's involvement in redeveloping downtown Knoxville, saying they are the "poster couple for the resurgence of Market Square," and that their businesses are "considered some of the trendiest around." The article says the West's are "considered one of the largest property owners and business operators downtown."

According to the article, Margie Nichols said the "possibility of downtown Knoxville losing some of its more popular attractions concerns the city," but that "it will sustain itself." Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership CEO Mike Edwards said "it's not devastating." Chamber Partnership executive VP Rhonda Rice said that Scott West is "a significant influence on downtown and a good steward of downtown businesses."

The article notes that Scott West was a member of the Mayor's Downtown Advisory Committee and "and served on the boards of the Central Business Improvement District and the Market Square District Association."

(You may also recall that Scott and Bernadette West came to a City Council workshop last year to support the sale of the Candy Factory and other World's Fair site properties, which also involved the lease of the Sunsphere for office and restaurant space. The City and their chosen developers had mentioned the Wests as prospective operators of the Sunsphere restaurant. More recently, the developers considered abandoning that plan because of the high utility costs that would be involved.)

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Old Hickory's picture

This is not good. Dopers Leading Market Square redevelopment?

When you throw that much public money at a downtown Knoxville project, the do gooders are no gooders and the largest business on Market Square Mall is the SuperChamber. I hope they are the subject of the next federal raid.

City of Knoxville spends millions redeveloping the mall, federal government comes in in 3 hours and essentially thwarts those redevelopment efforts.

Number9's picture

When you throw that much

When you throw that much public money at a downtown Knoxville project, the do gooders are no gooders and the largest business on Market Square Mall is the SuperChamber. I hope they are the subject of the next federal raid.

City of Knoxville spends millions redeveloping the mall, federal government comes in in 3 hours and essentially thwarts those redevelopment efforts.

Knoxville could build a massive retail/residential project on the South Knox Waterfront. It would be a good use of tax dollars, because we don't want downtown to fail after the 300 million taxpayer dollars already invested in it do we?

It makes sense to invest another 90 million taxpayer dollars in the South Knox Water Front so we don't lose our previous investment in downtown Knoxville. This time it will be done right. I am sure with some new ordinances Knoxville can stop this drug problem. Knoxville could screen potential new businesses for any tax issues. Great minds are working on the problem this very moment.

I heard the Convention Center will come close to break-even in 2025. You have to keep the faith. Seriously, if we built they will come. Right?

Rachel's picture

What in the name of God do

What in the name of God do the Wests' problems have to do with the south waterfront?  Give it a break, digit.

No way this whole thing is good for Market Square, or downtown in general.  It's a setback, but I don't think it's "devastating."  It's not going to scare people away ("ooh, I'm so scared of the money launderer!") and even if these businesses close, there are more opening all the time.

Old Hickory's picture

New Chamber Slogan - Munchies Now!

In an effort to stimulate the Weigels and Pilot munchies sales, Knox County, in cooperation with the SuperChamber, have initiated a program called Munchies Now! By encouraging citizen's of Knox County to use marijuana, thereby creating an unbridled and heretofore never seen levels of purchases or chips, Little Debbies, candy, snacks, and colas, the sales of Weigels and Pilot munchies are expected to propel Knoxville and Knox County to the top of all per capita c-store munchie calculationsm, potentially created 12 new jobs in Knox County. These new jobs are expected to pay $8 per hour, time and a half for holidays and overtime, with amble opportunity for advancement within each operation.

In a related development, both Weigels and Pilot have announced that they are holding their company picnics at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Stacey's picture

raid

The munchie sales idea is hilarious. I hate this for the West's, they seem like good people, and there is worse you could do than sale dope. I think downtown will survive because of the people living there, hopefully the places will stay open or someone will by them up. I've heard rumors of bad activity by the West's before but took it to be gossip. Anyways, don't know if I've said it here, but I've said over and over again, there is stuff that goes on in the little bars that makes Michael's look like Disney Land, but the KNS and KPD have a hard on for Michael's. Stacey

Anonymous's picture

No Good

I agree that these dopers are no good for Knoxville but I cannot believe that this has gone on for eleven years right under the noses of the City officials who dole out all this money. The West's were given such a sweet ride from the city it makes me sick. Does anybody remember just a few years ago when the city did everything possible, legal and otherwise, to harass business owners out of business on Market Square. All because they hated Frank Gencay who was sueing them. Frank, by the way, owned almost all of Market Square at the time. You could not sit outside with a beer in front of the Mercury Theatre or the Tomatoe Head or you would be arrested. Sometimes it was allowed at the Tomatoe Head depending on the mood at the moment. And don't forget the Snake Snatch Lodge which was run out of business because the city didn't like their name.Why is it ok to congregate on the mall if it's a Hot Summer Nights thing or if you are a bum but not if you look like a punk rocker. The current debockle is an example of what happens when liberal, left wing,hippy,dope dealers are the pied pipers for downtown redevelopment. They have no respect for the law and have probably been having a big long laugh at them for a long time. I say get the Hippies out and bring back the Merc.The only thing they sold was great live entertainment.Everybody who is anybody in modern music graced that stage at some point on their way to becoming stars. Maybe the city has grown up enough to handle it now.

R. Neal's picture

That would be ALLEGED

That would be ALLEGED "liberal, left wing, hippy, dope dealers." You really ought to sine a brillyant post like this.

Factchecker's picture

I say get the Hippies out

I say get the Hippies out and bring back the Merc.

I'm sure that place or the others mentioned never catered to any liberal, left wing, hippy, dopers. 

rikki's picture

They weren't selling pot out

They weren't selling pot out of those businesses. The allegation is that the Wests were laundering the profits through the businesses. Judging from the quantities, the pot was probably being distributed all over East Tennessee. It looks like Mike West was the dealer and Scott and Bernadette got mixed up with the money moreso than the drugs.

Car Guy's picture

re: No Good by Anonymous

No Good
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2006/07/19

snip

Tomatoe Head (snip)
Tomatoe Head (snip)

Randy, this is a Gold Star day for the blog!!!

Former Vice President Dan "Potatoe" Quayle is now posting!!!

Congrats!!! How'd you do it?

Andy Axel's picture

Awful with a Capital "O"

debockle

Heh heh. I was thinking more of Little Carmine Lupertazzi.

"We're in a real f_____g stagmire here."

____________________________

"The iPod was not developed by Baptists in Waco." -- G.K.

Old Hickory's picture

What Should be on Market Square Mall

Given the demographics of downtown Knoxville, you're not going to get Anne Taylor Loft, Borders Bookstore, Flemings Steakhouse, Calhoun's, Regal Cinemas, Belks, Chik-fil-A, Atlanta Bread, or Marble Slab to locate on Market Square Mall, their new stores are all located 22 miles west out at Turkey Creek.

What you get on Market Square should be a number of small locally owned entertainment and retail spaces, embraced by a number of downtown patrons who appreciate simple commerce and the exchange and interplay with the proprietors of these fine establishments.

However, if you have a player with multiple properties and businesses on Market Sqare Mall, that in and of itself may be a red flag that something is amiss, as the demographic are well known for doing business in downtown Knoxville and its not the easiest way to the Fortune 500.

Let's see the city spend another $500,000 in legal fees, trying to save these properties from the long arm of Uncle Sam.

Kevin Niceley's picture

It ain't gonna be the Mercury

Hey folks, Kevin Niceley here. I owned the Mercury Theatre, where the Preservation Pub is now, for seven years. I wish the city would have helped me with a grant or a loan or anything. I got nuttin' honey! I have no interest in dealing with a local gvt. who hates my brand of entertainment. While I don't condone what the West's did, I do know how hard one has to work to stay ahead of the tax man. The bar and restaraunt business is brutal. I wondered how they kept all those businesses looking so nice. I currently have one restaraunt in Daytona Beach, which has live music three times a week and it's about to kill me. I hope that "YOKEL" TV show hurries up and makes me a millionaire.Best wishes to Scott and Bernadette and good luck.

Old Hickory's picture

Edward Says Not Devastating, Pay Raised to $$247,000

Not devastating. Of course it's devastating. Downtown businesses raided by federal law enforcement, principals charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering.

Somebody poke that piece of lard and remind him he's paid $237,000 a year to bring new businesses to Knox County, not a bunch of drug dealers, dopers, and money launderers.

Even the strip clubs in town follow the law.

R. Neal's picture

I think you should tone that

I think you should tone that down a little. At this point a) it's a sealed indictement so we don't even know precicely what he's charged with or any details, and b) he certainly hasn't had his day in court.

But I agree Edwards ought to be doing more to bring business to Market Square. It still looks about half empty to me, and these latest developments certainly aren't going to help.

Michael's picture

On the other hand...

I think we can trust his attorney's account of the charges.

~m. 

Dope on the Slope's picture

Legalize It

Maybe if Knoxville passed an ordinance granting a cafe license for small recreational amounts of weed to be sold legally and taxed the hell out of it. I know that is Libertarian fantasyland, but the rides are nice and the lines are relatively short.
R. Neal's picture

That would be interesting,

That would be interesting, but I'm not sure how they'd get that past the State of Tennessee or the feds.

Les Jones's picture

"I know that is Libertarian

"I know that is Libertarian fantasyland, but the rides are nice and the lines are relatively short."

The downside is having to pay tolls to use the privately-owned sidewalks.  

Just a little libertarian private property humor there, folks. 


Hey, Les, why don't we just call each other assholes and get it over with. - Somebody on the old Southknoxbubba.net (if that was you, claim your quote and win net.fame!)

Dope on the Slope's picture

The downside is having to

The downside is having to pay tolls to use the privately-owned sidewalks.

Curiously, since I moved to Brooklyn, I've discovered that New York property owners have been responsible for the state of the sidewalk outside their front doors since Peter Stuyvesant was in charge. You used to have to cobble your own street or face fines! Now you just have to make sure the walk isn't uneven, especially in Winter.

Les Jones's picture

"You used to have to cobble

"You used to have to cobble your own street or face fines!"

Coercion by the state. Come see the violence inherent in the system!

Just a little libertarian coercion humor there, folks. 


Hey, Les, why don't we just call each other assholes and get it over with. - Somebody on the old Southknoxbubba.net (if that was you, claim your quote and win net.fame!)

Anonymous's picture

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wests

Despite the other dribble about the chamber and downtown redevelopment, the fact still remains that the Wests are facing serious drug related charges.

Although they may have broken the law, they offered much to this city and for that we can all be thankful.

Our thoughts and prayers are with them today as they face the devastating realities of the "war on drugs". Nonetheless, this will be a difficult road and while they may have skewed the lines of good judgement, it does not detract from the passion and energy they poured into redeveloping downtown Knoxville.

Thank you.

bob's picture

downtown advisory committee

fyi
Not that it's really significant, but the Downtown Advisory Committee member list and minutes of meetings (none from this year?) are online here:
(link...)

Anonymous's picture

what is so wrong with

what is so wrong with weed... it only makes you hungry and lazy.

Chrissy's picture

No matter what, they are good people

I have met both Scott and Bernadette West, and feel they are great people. I am not approving the actions they have been accused of, but simply pointing out the good that they have done for the city.

Scott and Bernadette believe in the rebuilding of Market Square and have made a valiant effort to do so. If they are in fact guilty, it will be unfortunate to lose their efforts as well as the businesses they have developed. If siezed and sold to others, I don't think their shops or bars will survive. Sure things will carry on and continue to grow, but not in the same way. Scott and Bernadette are what make these buisnesses so unique and wonderful.

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