HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Hendersonville Police Department, in cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service, has cracked one of the more elaborate organized crime cases you’ll hear about.
The investigation began more than two years ago, and detectives are still making arrests and following leads.
Hendersonville Police say the alleged mastermind continued his criminal enterprise behind bars in the Sumner County Jail after his arrest.
The case began in January 2020 when a Sumner County contractor, Tim Wheeler, received a $36,000 bill from the Hendersonville Lowes.
andy cordan: “How did they pretend to be you?”
Tim Wheeler: “I would like to know, because when I go in, I have to show my ID. I was pretty upset.”
Police told News 2 that the scammers used Wheeler’s company to steal washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, tool boxes and lumber.
It’s very expensive material that Wheeler said he never ordered.
“It’s not something we typically buy,” Wheeler said. “We buy things to build houses with.”
When Wheeler complained, he said Lowes told him his company had to accept the fraudulent charges.
Wheeler said he was unhappy with that response and went to the Hendersonville Police Department, who quickly accepted the case.
Hendersonville Police Detective Thomas Holman worked with the Secret Service Task Force. He got the case and quickly began uncovering this elaborate scheme.
“This is one of the most bizarre cases I’ve worked on,” Holman said.
Within days, there was a rupture in the case when Holman Jackson arrested a Mississippi man, William Nolan.
The 50-year-old implicated himself in the crime and was jailed in the Sumner County Jail.
“I found out that Mr. Nolan started a criminal enterprise,” Holman said.
Months after the investigation, while trying to locate the missing equipment, Holman overheard the 50-year-old’s prison calls and was shocked by what he heard.
“He would be given some kind of shopping list, he would tell the Lowes staff that he was going to send someone on his crew to pick up those items,” Holman said.
According to Holman, Nolan was on the prison phone 12 hours a day, phoning his crew outside. According to Holman, Nolan was able to conduct three-way calls and speak to Lowes employees in the Mid-South, pose as contractors, and order hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment.
From prison, Nolan choreographed pickups between his crew and the various stores in Nashville, Kentucky, Mississippi and even Indiana.
When asked how he stole so much from a large corporation from his jail cell, the 12-year veteran said Lowe’s security was lax.
“A lot more safeguards could be put in place,” Holman said.
Holman said that because of this case, Lowes is tightening his security on these matters.
It took nearly two years, but Holman arrested two other suspected ring members — Rhonda Anderson, 49, of Lafayette, Tennessee, and Graham Kelly, 34, of Pearl, Mississippi. Both are accused of conspiracy to launder money.
Nolan is charged with:
- Conspiracy to commit money laundering
- Identity Theft (x3)
- Crime Theft (x7)
- Organized retail crime
Holman said the theft is approaching $250,000. “We can prove over $220,000 right now,” Holman paused, saying the actual theft amount was likely much higher.
The good news: Tim Wheeler got his money back. He credited the Hendersonville Police Department for all of his good fortune. He said he hasn’t had any incidents since.
“I was overwhelmingly pleased,” Wheeler said of the HPD’s response to his case.
Wheeler said there are a lot more victims out there because he’s spoken to several contractors, one as far away as Michigan.
cordan: “I’m still amazed that you can walk in Lowes and walk out with $36,000 worth of stuff just by saying I’m so-and-so?”
wheeler: “Me too, because I am the owner. I am the check signer and when I go in there they ask for a lot of information.”
When asked about the alleged mastermind behind the prison, William Nolan, Detective Holman said, “He was cooperative. He admitted his involvement. He’s smooth on the phone.”
When asked what Nolan got out of it, Holman said, “He had set up some bank accounts for him and he would put the proceeds back into the prison phone, acting, and give it to other inmates to maximize acting services, he was on that.” Phone more than 12 hours a day and they charge for each call. He had his own criminal enterprise that spanned three other states that we know of.”
News 2 has reached out to Lowes for comment, but we haven’t heard back.
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Hendersonville Police say the investigation is ongoing and could be picked up by the Secret Service. Further arrests are possible.
https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/mississippi-man-allegedly-operates-crime-ring-from-sumner-county-jail-2-year-investigation-reveals/ Mississippi man allegedly operates crime ring from Sumner County Jail, 2-year investigation reveals