Just months after obtaining more than $400,000 in federal stimulus funds, TR Auto Truck Plaza off Interstate 40 sits idle.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) handed out the $424,000 Environmental Protection Agency stimulus grant for electrical hookups so that truckers wouldn’t have to burn diesel fuel while resting. Both the state and EPA were apparently unaware that owner Rick Lewis had a history of legal and financial problems and had filed for bankruptcy.
What was originally lauded as Tennessee’s first electrified truck terminal is now boarded up.
“It is Solyndra in miniature,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., referring to a Silicon Valley solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy shortly after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy. “What I am questioning is the vetting and oversight and the fiduciary responsibility that the federal government — the people who run these programs — have to we, the taxpayer.”
Even before his latest bankruptcy filing, Lewis had a history of financial troubles. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003, a year after a conviction on 31 counts of theft. And Lewis currently faces indictments for allegedly writing worthless checks, according to court records.