Tag Archives: crime

Three make plea deals in sheriff corruption case

Three people involved in the pending trial on corruption charges against Gibson County’s former sheriff Thursday accepted plea agreements, reports the Jackson Sun.

Former Sheriff Charles “Chuck” Arnold, former Chief Deputy Jeff Maitland, and 10 other former Sheriff’s Office employees were indicted following an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in late November 2015.

Joel Hughey, Eddie Bradford and Renea Terrell, who were among those indicted, pleaded Thursday to lesser charges. Hughey and Terrell pleaded guilty, and Bradford entered an Alford plea, known as a “best interest” plea.

The three defendants who made plea agreements may be called to testify against others in the case. Arnold, Maitland and the other remaining defendants decided they will go to trial.

Hughey and Bradford were fired from their positions as correctional officers after they were indicted on charges of theft of $1,000 or more and official misconduct. According to a state investigative audit report, Hughey and Bradford were among several employees accused of receiving overtime pay for work they didn’t do.

… Terrell, the contract nurse (working with the sheriff’s department), pleaded guilty to one count of theft and three counts of conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by fraud and will serve three years on probation. She must pay $1,339.92 in restitution. Her case is subject to judicial diversion, which means she could have her criminal record expunged if she satisfies the terms of her probation.

Terrell was originally indicted on one count of conspiracy to obtain controlled substances by fraud, 39 counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, 39 counts of official misconduct and two counts of theft

…Arnold is charged with more than 100 counts of official misconduct, theft and obtaining prescription drugs by fraud.

According to the audit report and indictments, Arnold’s official misconduct charges stem from accusations that he took money from a drug fund; forged a receipt; submitted excessive payment requests for himself, Maitland and another employee; authorized excessive compensation for multiple employees; falsified pay records; inflated invoices; and obtained controlled substances by fraud.

School money stolen for drinking, gambling

A former Knox County Schools supervisor accused of using his district-issued credit card to place online gambling bets pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony theft of more than $10,000, according to the News Sentinel.

Roger Underwood, 61, has agreed to a three-year sentence, but the details will be determined by Criminal Court Judge Scott Green on Sept. 29.

The state plans to object to judicial diversion, said Sean McDermott, a Knox County assistant district attorney general.

Underwood has agreed to repay the $11,989 he stole by that hearing, McDermott said.

The former accounts payable supervisor, who had an annual salary of $96,074, was fired in October after admitting to using his school credit card for personal purchases. Investigators found he placed bets ranging from $99 to $299 on the card, losing as much as $1,800 in one day gambling online.

A report from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury also questioned $731 in charges during a retirement reception at a Mississippi casino, where Underwood also ordered martinis, peach schnapps and a $200 tray of hors d’oeuvres and gave a $115 tip.

He also received reimbursements for school-related trips he never took, officials said.

“Because Underwood was responsible for reviewing school credit card charges, including his own, officials were unaware of these inappropriate charges,” the comptroller’s report states.

Former development district director pleads guilty to stealing fed funds

Wendy Askins, the former director of the Upper Cumberland Development District, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon in a federal courtroom to two counts of theft from the federally-funded agency, reports WTVF-TV.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says Askins admits that she used funding from the Upper Cumberland Development District to buy property that she claimed would serve as a senior living facility called “Living the Dream.”

Instead, she made tens of thousands of dollars of upgrades to the residence — like converting a bedroom into a tanning bed and installing a double-winding staircase. At that point in 2012, News Channel 5 started an investigation, which led law enforcement to get involved.

Prosecutors say Askins tried to hide where some $233,000 came from by telling an employee to falsify minutes of a board meeting.

The 55-year-old from Red Boiling Springs is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court at the end of October by Judge Aleta Trauger. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

Askins’ assistant — Larry Webb — already pleaded guilty to bank fraud this month and should be sentenced in September.

October date set for Todd sign theft trial

An October 11 trial date has been set in the case of suburban state Rep. Curry Todd, charged earlier this month with stealing opponent Mark Lovell’s yard signs, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Lawyers discussed the case Monday before General Sessions Court Judge Louis J. Montesi Jr. in hushed tones impossible to hear. Afterward, both Todd, R-Collierville, and his attorney Ted Hansom declined to comment. Prosecutor Byron Winsett confirmed the October 11 trial date.

Winsett is the top-level local prosecutor for public corruption and economic crimes. He said he’s handling the case because it involves a public official.

Todd — charged with theft of property under $500, a misdemeanor — was arrested two days before the August 4 primary election, which he went on to lose to Lovell. The arrest came after two instances where a Lovell backer photographed the state legislator removing the challenger’s signs. Lovell told Sheriff’s deputies hundreds of his sign were missing.

…Todd acknowledged taking the signs, but contended the landowner gave him exclusive rights to place signs at the property. He identified the owners as the Porters. An arrest affidavit written by Detective Sgt. B. Clark says he interviewed Joel Porter, who said Todd did not contact him, and no one had specific authorization to put signs on the property.

Armstrong attorney: Split verdict invalid

From Jamie Satterfield:
If former state Rep. Joe Armstrong did not try to evade taxes, he cannot be guilty of filing a false tax return.

So argues Armstrong’s defense attorney, Gregory P. Isaacs, in a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court asking a judge to either judicially acquit Armstrong of the felony filing a false tax return conviction he suffered this month or grant the now ex-lawmaker a new trial. Continue reading

Counseling service bilked TennCare for $300K

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The owner of a Memphis counseling service has pleaded guilty to defrauding TennCare of more than $300,000 by billing for services that were never performed.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Memphis, Vicky Fox began contracting with Tennessee’s Medicaid program in 2008 for grief counselling and psychotherapy services at her Rainbow Center for Children and Adolescents.

After one of Rainbow Center’s licensed clinical social workers left in January 2012, Fox continued to use that worker’s provider number to bill for phantom services.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began looking into the billing in August 2014 at the request of the Bureau of TennCare.

Fox pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of health care fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced in November.

Rep. Daniel booked on assault charge

State. Rep. Martin Daniel was formally booked Thursday on a misdemeanor assault charge lodged against him last month for allegedly shoving his Republican primary opponent, according to the News Sentinel.

Daniel, 59, is charged with shoving Steve Hall during a July 21 on-air radio forum hosted by Hallerin Hilton Hill on WOKI-FM when the two candidates for the 18th District House Republican primary race began arguing.

…Hall, who previously held the House seat for two terms until Daniel ousted him in 2014, swore out a warrant against Daniel the following week, and publicly and repeatedly questioned Daniel’s mental health.

Daniel still went on to win the GOP primary Aug. 4 with 1,314 votes. He faces Democratic challenger Brandi Price in the Nov. 8 general election. Price has said she doesn’t plan to bring up the assault case “unless it needs to be brought up.”

Daniel and his lawyer, Gregory P. Isaacs, have insisted Daniel offered Hall a “heartfelt and sincere” apology and that the assault charge came as a surprise.

Hall, who came in second in the primary by 964 votes, has said he plans to continue to pursue the assault case.

Durham’s trespass charge against reporter dismissed

A misdemeanor trespassing charge brought by state Rep. Jeremy Durham against Nashville Post and Nashville Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin has been dismissed, reports Nashville Post Politics.

“I’m glad these baseless allegations have been dropped. I look forward to once again fully focusing my attention on my job, which includes the vetting of public officials,” said Gervin after the dismissal.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Katherine White had filed charges after a May 17 confrontation at Durham’s house during which the state representative screamed at Gervin and attempted to grab her cell phone from her hand.

“It’s been a bad week for Jeremy: He’s having to answer questions about his campaign finances not being in order and now his unfounded charges against our reporter got thrown out,” said Steve Cavendish, editorial director at SouthComm and editor of the Scene. “We’re just glad the court found this all as ridiculous as we did. I only wish he hadn’t wasted taxpayers’ time and money like this.”

Further from The Tennessean:
The reporter, Cari Wade Gervin, appeared in court at the Williamson County Judicial Center for a hearing before Special Judge Ernie Williams. Assistant District Attorney General Mary Katherine White and Gervin’s lawyer, Tyler Yarbro, said the case would be dismissed.

“I have consulted with Mr. and Mrs. Durham as well,” White said in court.

Williams said both sides reached an agreement to dismiss the case and he would “certainly sign off on that.”

…Durham sat in the lobby of the courthouse with his wife, Jessica. Approached by a Tennessean reporter, he declined to comment, shaking his head and waving his hands. The couple did not attend the brief hearing, which is not unusual when charges are dropped.

Judge pushes oversight of juvenile offenders to age 25

Young criminal offenders would be under oversight of the state’s juvenile justice system until they reach age 25 instead of 19 under a proposal being pushed by Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael, according to the Commercial Appeal.

“What it would do is it would give us longer with those kids who are on the fence, who probably haven’t hurt anyone other than scared them to death, who we know may need another two years. That if we don’t hold them for those two years, they’re liable to go out and do something even worse,” said Michael.

…”The law currently says juvenile court should have jurisdiction until 19 years of age. I’m taking out 19 and plugging in 25. It changes nothing else but the age.”

But that one word change in the bill would create sweeping changes in the juvenile court system if passed. Juveniles who commit a crime before their 18th birthday would have the ability to remain in the juvenile court system until they turn 25, depending on the crime. However, a judge could still file a motion to transfer the juvenile to adult court if the offense warranted it, Michael said.

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said she would need to see the bill’s language to better understand Michael’s proposal, but changing the age of jurisdiction would prompt a long, complicated process.

“First of all, if you were to increase the number of individuals that would be monitored and supervised by (Department of Children’s Services), they don’t have the resources to do that,” Weirich said. “That would take additional funds, additional personnel…”

Weirich was more open to the idea of blended sentencing, where a juvenile court imposes both juvenile and adult sanctions simultaneously, with the adult sentence suspended. If the offender completes the juvenile sentence without incident, oftentimes they do not have to serve the adult sentence. If the juvenile violates the conditions of the first sentence, he or she may be required to serve the adult sentence.

TN man sentenced in Mitt Romeny tax return case

A Tennessee man has been sentenced to four years in prison for claiming he had hacked Mitt Romeny’s tax returns and demanding money to keep them secret, reports NBC News.

Michael Mancil Brown, 37, of Franklin was convicted in May on fraud charges. He sent a letter in 2012 to the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers claiming that he had gotten access to its computer network and had stolen three years’ worth of tax documents for Romney and also for Romney’s wife, Ann.

Brown demanded that the firm deposit $1 million worth of bitcoins into an account to prevent him from releasing the tax documents he claimed to have.

Late Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Billy Roy Wilson sentenced Brown to 48 months in prison and ordered him to pay about $200,000 in restitution to the accounting firm.

Note: Justice Department press release is HERE.