West Enterprises properties for sale

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 2010

NATCHEZ — Three former West Enterprises properties are for sale as of Wednesday at a price of $399,000.

Century 21 River Cities Realty Agent Rip Dayton said the owner of record, which is not Theodore “Bubber” West or his family, but a mortgage company, has listed two buildings on Martin Luther King Jr. Street and the Pinehill Memorial Cemetery on the market.

Dayton said the realty company is marketing the two buildings and cemetery that West once owned, but not the West Enterprises businesses. West Enterprises includes a funeral home, floral shop and insurance office.

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West, a former Natchez alderman, said Wednesday his family is interested in buying the properties back.

“We have been working on buying the land for over a year and a half,” West said.

In July 2009, a Jackson bankruptcy judge ruled the land belonging to West Enterprises could be sold as a result of a 2009 foreclosure. West filed for bankruptcy in an effort to halt foreclosure proceedings.

West stepped down as president of West Enterprises on July 17, 2009, citing health, family matters and business setbacks as the cause of his resignation. His brother, Henry West, became president.

Jackson-based attorney John C. Underwood represented the mortgage company during 2009, but it has since been turned over to Natchez-based law firm Gwin, Lewis and Punches attorney Bruce Lewis.

“The West family was giving us such a run around that we decided it would have to go to someone in Natchez to save on travel expenses,” Underwood said Wednesday.

Lewis could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Last year local businessman Robert Johnson Sr., was interested in buying the properties, but has since recanted, his attorney Bobby Cox said Wednesday.

“He has dropped that idea and moved on to another one,” Cox said.

West, who was prosecuted by the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, recently pleaded guilty to three counts of conversion of pre-need funeral funds, a federal crime. Adams County Circuit Court Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson sentenced West to serve 10 years for each count, to be served concurrently.

West will serve one-year house arrest, five years formal probation and four years informal probation.

West was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,200 to the three victims involved in the court case.

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s office alleges that West Funeral Home’s pre-need funeral fund is underfunded $91,107. According to the secretary of state’s office, West did not have a license to sell pre-need funeral policies, and West Funeral Home continued to sell the policies despite two cease and desist letters from the office.