James “Tim” Norman, the star of the OWN reality series “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” has been arrested on federal charges for his alleged involvement in a murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the death of his nephew.
Norman, 41, also the owner of the Jackson, Mississippi, restaurant, was arrested by FBI agents Tuesday in Jackson on charges of conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire resulting in death, according to a statement released by the FBI’s Jackson office.
The reality show, which ran from 2011 to 2018, followed Norman and his mother Robbie Montgomery, a former backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner, as they ran the family restaurant franchise. An affidavit filed Aug. 11 states Norman conspired with Terica Ellis, of Memphis, Tennessee, using prepaid cellphones to coordinate the murder of Norman’s 21-year-old nephew, Andre Montgomery, on March 14, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri. Ellis also faces one count of conspiracy, according to the complaint.
The affidavit states Norman attempted to obtain a life insurance policy for Montgomery in the amount of $250,000 in October 2014, but the policy was not issued. Another policy totaling $450,000 was issued by a separate insurance company two weeks later, and Norman was named as the sole beneficiary.
On March 10, 2016, Ellis allegedly contacted Montgomery, who informed him she was “on her way into (St. Louis),” according to communications obtained by the FBI. On March 13, 2016, the day before Montgomery’s death, Norman flew from his then-residence in Los Angeles to St. Louis.
Two prepaid cellphones, which were later traced to both Norman and Ellis, were activated on March 14, 2016, and used throughout the day for communication between the suspects. According to the affidavit, Montgomery sent the address where he was ultimately killed to Ellis’ cellphone that evening. Ellis then contacted Norman. Montgomery was shot and killed less than an hour later and location data from Ellis’ phone places her in the vicinity at the time of Montgomery’s death.
Ellis allegedly contacted Norman again after Montgomery’s death, then began returning to Memphis. Both Ellis’ and Norman’s devices ceased all activity on March 15, 2016. Four days later, Norman attempted to collect on Montgomery’s insurance policy, but was subsequently denied because he could not provide several requested documents, according to the affidavit. In addition,
Ellis made several cash deposits into her bank accounts in Memphis between March 15-17, 2016, totaling over $9,000. Records show that Ellis, along with her mother and daughter, traveled to Los Angeles on March 22, 2016, and were in the same location as Norman on at least one occasion before they returned to Memphis on March 28, 2016.
The affidavit also states Norman wired money to Ellis one month later. Norman has previously had several run-ins with the law. According to his biography in the “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” section on the OWN website, he was arrested on armed robbery charges and served 10 years in prison.
In 2018, he was charged for misdemeanor assault charges in Harris County, Texas, after allegedly punching a former employee in the face, according to several news outlets. In 2019, a Houston-based property company sued Norman for unpaid rent totaling over $254,000. He faced similar trouble in Jackson in December 2019 after the owners of the Plaza Building said he owed them $100,000 in rent. Norman said at the time he hadn’t paid due to issues with the building. Previously, the restaurant was forced to close for eight days by the city due to operations violations.