HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—Four Alabama men are awaiting trial on charges involving the theft of thousands of passenger tires in Georgia and Tennessee. Following an investigation by four law enforcement agencies, a federal grand jury last Oct. 31 indicted Paul Berryman, 60, former owner of Paul's Service Center (doing business as Paul's Tire Center) in Huntsville; George ``Blue'' Moore, 58, also of Huntsville; and Gordon J. ``Jughead'' Walls, 43, and his son, Phillip J. Walls, 26, both of Albertville, Ala.
The six-count indictment charged them with conspiracy and the sale and receipt of stolen property worth more than $5,000 that had been transported across state lines. They were arrested last December by the FBI, then released on bond.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Sullivan in Birmingham, Ala., who is handling the government's case against the four men, told TIRE BUSINESS that the alleged thefts occurred between April 1991 and March 1993, and were discovered during an investigation of an unrelated matter he would not disclose.
According to the indictment, following each theft Mr. Berryman met with the other three men, all truck drivers, and agreed to purchase the stolen tires ``for substantially less than wholesale value.''
The attorney said Mr. Moore and the Walls hooked up and drove off with tractor trailer rigs of tires, delivering them to Paul's Tire Center.
Mr. Sullivan would not comment on any information outside the indictment, including where the trailers were parked, or who owned the tires.
A total of 5,554 tires were stolen. The indictment stated that on April 1, 1991, a tractor-trailer containing about 1,311 Kelly-Springfield tires was stolen in Carroll County, Ga.; on Oct. 21, 1992, about 1,528 General-brand tires were taken from Fairview, Tenn.; on Jan. 1, 1993, 636 Kelly tires were taken in Bartow County, Ga; 979 General tires were taken on Jan. 9, 1993, from Conyers, Ga; and 1,199 Kelly tires were stolen on Jan. 10, 1993, in Forest Park, Ga.
Assisting the FBI in the investigation were the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff's offices of DeKalb County and Marshall County, both in Alabama.
Judge William M. Acker Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama will hear the trial, which has tentatively been set for Feb. 3, probably in Birmingham, Mr. Sullivan said.
Mr. Berryman was unavailable for comment. A woman answering the phone at his home said his tire dealership is out of business.