Rogersville pawnbroker arrested for improper record keeping, no license

Jeff Bobo • Nov 9, 2012 at 11:46 AM

ROGERSVILLE — One of Rogersville’s leading businessmen was arrested Friday in connection with 45 criminal summonses for failure to maintain required records of pawn shop transactions, as well as two counts of operating a pawn shop without a license.

Rick Allen Stewart, 56, 316 E. McKinney Ave., Rogersville, owns Rick’s Trading Post at 4785 Highway 11-W in Rogersville.

This past March the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office notified all pawn shops within the county that they would be requiring detailed and proper records of all transactions as required by Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA).

HCSO Detective John Pruitt told the Times-News Friday that as of this past March, Sheriff Ronnie Lawson had added manpower to the Detectives Division and from that point on regular checks of pawned items for stolen property could be made countywide.

“Mr. Stewart wasn’t keeping the records he was supposed to be keeping, and he wasn’t keeping a ledger for those transactions,” Pruitt said. “He would give us a copy of some form of government I.D. with a written transaction. According to TCA the records need to be sequentially numbered with a description of the item complete with serial number, along with updated information on the seller to include a government I.D. and a current phone number.

“We were lucky to get a copy of a driver’s license or an I.D. card.”

As of March when the sheriff’s office stepped up pawn shop monitoring, most pawn shops in the county weren’t keeping proper records. Pruitt said the sheriff’s office gave pawn shops a chance to begin keeping proper records with no citations for the past discrepancies.

Most complied, although a couple required a few verbal warnings before stepping into line.

Pruitt said he personally warned Pruitt three times about proper transaction record keeping at the Trading Post, and he’s aware that other detectives addressed the issue with Stewart as well.

“In March we gave them all a copy of TCA guidelines to be in compliance with this and Mr. Stewart has not been in compliance,” Pruitt said. “On a handful of instances we discovered stolen property had gone through that business and Mr. Stewart had already sold it prior to us going to reclaim it. His failure to maintain records of those transactions is what spurred the investigation that led to today’s arrest.

“Basically, he sold stolen property and we had no record of who brought it to him or who purchased it.”

The majority of the property identified in Stewart’s 45 criminal summonses served Friday was not stolen, Pruitt noted.

Stewart also doesn’t have a state pawnbroker’s license, as is required by state law. Pruitt cited Stewart for not having a pawnbroker’s license on Aug. 28, and Detective Marc Bass cited Stewart for not having a pawnbroker’s license on Oct. 12.

All 47 summonses against Stewart are Class A misdemeanors and were lumped into a single arrest warrant. He was released from the Hawkins County Jail Friday on $25,000 bond and is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday in Hawkins County Sessions Court.

Rick Stewart is brother and business partner to Roger Stewart, 59, of Rogersville.

Roger Stewart is currently awaiting trial on two counts of reckless endangerment in connection with a head-on collision that occurred on June 11 on Highway 11-W near the Trading Post and R&R Auto Sales which the brothers co-own.

Roger Stewart is accused of driving in the wrong lane on 11-W as a shortcut to get to the car lot when he hit another car head on. A passenger in that vehicle, 84-year-old Thelma Hughes, died six weeks after the wreck, allegedly due to injuries from the wreck.

The car Roger Stewart was driving belonged to R&R Auto Sales, and both Rick Stewart and Roger Stewart have been named as defendants in a $2.75 million wrongful death lawsuit.

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