Camp Zoe Update: Bank Tells Feds to Get Lost

Jimmy Tebeau: Even if the government doesn't get his land, the bank might.
Jimmy Tebeau: Even if the government doesn't get his land, the bank might.
It's been awhile since we checked in on the case against Jimmy Tebeau's Camp Zoe, subject of our earlier feature, "Shakedown."

And, it turns out, there's an interesting new wrinkle: The feds aren't the only people laying claim to Camp Zoe.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has asked for a stay in its attempt to seize the 350-acre campground in central Missouri, saying they want to focus on a corollary criminal investigation. (As Daily RFT first reported in November, the DEA, Missouri State Highway Patrol and U.S. Attorney's Office have brought an "asset forfeiture" case related to the property, alleging widespread drug use and attempting to seize the land.)

But now another party has weighed in on the case. Earlier this year, court records show, PNC Bank intervened in the asset forfeiture case, saying they hold the mortgage to the property.

And while they haven't moved to foreclose, the bank does note that Tebeau has been in default on its loan since November 2010.

On first glance, the whole thing seems miserably unfair. PNC's motion allege that Tebeau missed his first payment in November 2010 -- which is precisely when the feds swooped in and attempted to seize the property. Not coincidentally, at the same time, according to Tebeau's attorney Dan Viets, they also raided his personal account. No wonder the guy started missing mortgage payments.

As Viets told Daily RFT at the time:

They took all of his money from his bank account. Whether they get to keep it is another matter, but they seized it. It is incredible what the federal government can do to people or a business based merely on allegations with no evidence whatsoever. When they take all your money its pretty hard to hire a lawyer. They know that, and they're depriving a citizen or a business owner of his right to counsel.
But there may be more to this story. We can't help but wonder if the bank's action could actually help push back the feds and their claim.

According to the bank's claim, filed in late January, Tebeau's unpaid principal with the bank is $376,596. At the time of the filing, he'd missed three payments, racking up an additional $4,000 in interest and fees.

And yet they haven't moved to foreclose. Instead, they're merely trying to assert to the feds that they have the first lien on the property -- meaning the feds can't just take the land. If Tebeau's really in default, it belongs to them. Yeah, maybe not the greatest news for Tebeau, but certainly really bad news for the greedy government.

The bank's attorney, Scott Greenberg of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard P.C., declined comment. We also have a call out to Tebeau's attorney, Viets; we hope to have more on this story as it develops.

For the record, while Tebeau faces charges of felony tax evasion in state court related to the feds' Camp Zoe investigation, he has yet to be charged with any drug-related crime.

Sarah Fenske

Sarah Fenske is the executive editor of the RFT and its sister papers. She is the former host of St. Louis on the Air and continues to host its Legal Roundtable, as well participating as an occasional panelist on Nine PBS' Donnybrook. She lives in St. Louis.
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