State of Tennessee v. Ronald Lyons, James Michael Usinger, Lee Harold Cromwell, Austin Gary Cooper, and Christopher Alan Hauser

Case Number

The Uniform Commercial Code provides a mechanism for secured creditors to give notice to the world of their security interest in debtors’ property as collateral for debt by filling out a form for a financing statement and posting it on the website for Tennessee’s Secretary of State. In this case, that system was weaponized. Collectively, the defendants filed over a hundred bogus financing statements on the Secretary of State’s website regarding over forty Tennessee residents, including judges, mayors, public officials, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and ex-spouses. The online financing statements falsely claimed liens for the defendants’ alleged security interest in the victims’ property as collateral for millions of dollars in fictitious debt. All were done for the apparent purpose of vexing and harassing the victims. All of the defendants were convicted of multiple counts of filing a lien without a reasonable basis, a Class E felony, and forgery of at least $250,000, a Class A felony. We granted permission to appeal in this case to address the forgery convictions. We hold that the defendants’ conduct fits within the statutory definition of forgery. We also hold that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding that the apparent value associated with the fraudulent financing statements was over $250,000. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Authoring Judge
Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Originating Judge
Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn
Date Filed
Dissent or Concur
Download PDF Version