A Vonore, Tenn., businessman faces federal charges for allegedly defrauding the U.S. Department of Defense of more than $1 million, intimidating potential witnesses and forcing employees to cover up environmental violations, reports the News Sentinel.
Phillip Michael Huddleston is charged in a six-count indictment unsealed this week in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to defraud the government, three counts of wire fraud and two related illegal banking transactions.
Huddleston is co-owner of Protech Metal Finishing in Vonore. He is accused in an indictment drafted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris of conspiring with another man identified only as “unindicted co-conspirator 1” to rip off the Defense Department via shoddy work on plating for 717 ammunition racks, lying to federal inspectors, tricking regulators with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, threatening to fire whistle-blowers and forcing his employees to engage in cover-ups.
Huddleston’s attorney, David Eldridge, said his client maintains his innocence, and his firm remains open.
“Mr. Huddleston denies the allegations against him and looks forward to defending himself at trial,” Eldridge said. “Protech Metal Finishing has many long-standing and positive relationships with its customers. Protech will continue to provide its customers quality service as it has done for many years.”
The indictment alleges $1.2 million in thievery from the defense department from September 2011 through February 2014 and states the plot began as far back as 2009. Court records indicate a June 2013 fire at the Vonore warehouse involving illegally stored hazardous waste spurred at least part of the probe that led to the indictment.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley arraigned Huddleston on Tuesday. A July 12 trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan has been set.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kentucky is the worst state in the nation when it comes to toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants, according to a report released Thursday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The analysis examined emissions from power plants in 2010, the most recent data available.
As for the other states bordering Kentucky, Ohio ranked 2nd, Indiana 4th, West Virginia 5th, Tennessee 11th, Virginia 12th, Missouri 15th and Illinois 16th. Delaware was No. 20 in the group’s “Toxic Twenty” states.
As for Kentucky, Council officials said its power plants are “poorly controlled” and that it has “failed to … adopt any kind of state law or regulation that requires substantial reduction in mercury or toxic pollution from the power sector.”
The report said Tennessee was one of the few states to increase its output of toxic air pollutants from 2009 to 2010, spewing out 9.6 million pounds of pollutants from its power plants. Power plants in Tennessee emitted 8.8 million pounds of pollutants in 2009.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An environmental group is launching a statewide television ad campaign in Tennessee to thank Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander for his opposition to an effort to block the Environmental Protection Agency from setting the first federal standards to reduce toxic air pollution from power plants.
The Environmental Defense Fund said Tuesday it is spending about $200,000 to air the ad in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Jackson and Memphis this week. The groups said the ads are meant to applaud Alexander for what it calls taking “a courageous stand for the people of his home state.”
Alexander was among five Republicans who voted against the measure sponsored by Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma that sought to scrap an Obama administration rule aimed at curbing air pollution from primarily coal-fired power plants.
“I learned as governor that cleaner air not only means better health for Tennesseans, it means better jobs,” Alexander said in an emailed statement. “It’s been a top priority of mine in the Senate. So far as I can tell, most Tennesseans agree with me.”
Alexander spokesman Jim Jeffries said the clean air issue isn’t a partisan one.
“Which is why people from across the political spectrum have been thanking Sen. Alexander for his vote,” he said in an email. “Just in the last few days a conservative group has run radio ads in Tennessee supporting him, too.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that puts new restrictions on doctors who perform abortions is headed to the governor for his consideration.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet was approved 27-5 in the Senate on Tuesday. The companion bill passed the House 72-24 last month.
The legislation would require physicians performing abortions to hold hospital privileges in either the home or adjacent county of the woman seeking an abortion.
Opponents questioned why abortion doctors were being singled out when other procedures performed at surgical centers don’t have to meet such requirements.
Beavers’ responded that medical procedures don’t always go as planned and that such problems require the resources of a hospital for the patient to receive the best care.
The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that gives some legal cover to gun-carry permit holders who get caught with a firearm on posted property, reports WPLN.
It’s not a “get out of jail free” card, but it gives an out-of-bounds gun carrier a legal excuse.
Representative Jeremy Faison, a Republican from Cosby, says his bill is supposed to cover inadvertent slip-ups – you can say you didn’t see the sign saying “No Guns Allowed.” Even at a university.
“You brought up the University of Tennessee. This is not saying it’s OK to have a gun there. It’s saying, you have a defense, should you have had a gun.”
Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner of Nashville later called the measure a dangerous bill.
“You know, you could actually carry a gun here, to the legislature, and if it was discovered on you, you’d just say, ‘I forgot I had it in my pocket,’ and they really… They gave ’em an out, there.”
The Senate companion piece is still in Senate Judiciary Committee, but it could move out to the Senate floor easily — the bill’s Senate sponsor, Mae Beavers, chairs the Judiciary Committee.
The bill (HB3499) took on additional importance later Thursday morning, when Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told a business group that a “guns in parking lots” bill won’t pass this year. Property owners had fought that measure, which would have forced them to let employees keep their firearms in a locked car on the employer’s parking lot.
The bill passed the House 67-22-1 with an amendment (pdf) that rewrites it. The new version says a handgun carry permit holder has an “affirmative defense” to being charged with “carrying a firearm for the purpose of going armed.”
…The sponsor, Faison, explains what the bill is intended to do:
“First of all, if you’re a licensed permit holder, and you have a gun, and you were not supposed to have it in a place, that was posted – you didn’t see the posting — and for whatever reason it was found that you had a gun. And no nefarious things were happening, you hadn’t broke the law any other way, but you happened to have a gun there. We’re just saying that you have a defense, an affirmative defense, in the state of Tennessee.”
Sen. Stacey Campfield has posted on his blog a fairly lengthy discourse on the comments he made about AIDS during a radio show appearance, including multiple links.
It starts like this:
As you may have heard I was on some little radio show to talk about my “don’t teach gay” bill. After a few minutes the host (Who shall we say was not of a receptive lifestyle) jumped topics and I made some comments on how the homosexual lifestyle was WAAAAAAY more risky then the hetero sexual lifestyle. Of course the regulars went bonkers. Here are some facts on the issues we covered.
Note: In case you haven’t heard about this, previous post HERE.
The Republican party, suggests Frank Cagle, is on a pattern of self-destruction in the long term.
So when the Republicans have finally achieved their lemming-like goals and have convinced blacks, Hispanics, gays, young people, the elderly and the middle class that their party doesn’t represent them, who will be left?
There aren’t that many Wall Street brokers and bankers.
For now, many of the traditional Republican voters are still committed to the party. Mostly because the Democrats are even more feckless, leaderless, and ineffectual. There is also widespread antipathy toward President Obama. That’s enough to perhaps give them a victory in the short run. But how long can they depend on the mantra that the Democrats are worse?
Tax Increase? Forget it
The anti-tax sentiment in the current political world makes any increase unlikely, even if arguably warranted, says Robert Houk.
Officials from the Johnson City and Washington County school systems are exploring the idea of putting a 0.25 percent sales tax referendum on the ballot early next year. They shouldn’t bother. It doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of passing.
A Poor Plan for Legal Services?
Gail Kerr doesn’t like the recently-proposed plan for hiring law firms to represent the indigent on a low bidder basis.
What they came up with is a proposal that has been widely poo-pooed by attorneys, judges, experts and professional groups. It would set up a bidding system in which attorneys or law firms would get the right to represent the indigent for a flat fee if they are the lowest bidder. All the sudden, in Tennessee, justice would be akin to road contracts or buying computers.
It’s the idea of paying a flat fee per case that makes this so distasteful. What that means is the ambulance-chasing-type lawyers could load up their plate with low-bid cases, collect their payment, and do as little work as possible for their client. Heck, they’re going to get paid the exact same amount if the client cops a plea or goes all the way to a jury trial and through the appeals process. There would be no incentive, other than a strong moral compass, to offer a client the strongest defense possible
‘The Help’ Hits Home in Memphis
Chris Peck says ‘The Help,’ a movie on race, should be of particular interest in Memphis.
The rest of the country has, in part, tuned into “The Help” because it offers a window into Southern culture and convention in the 1960s that many outside the South don’t know very well.
Memphis knows that world.
To live here is to confront issues raised in “The Help” every day. The biting racial divide. Institutionalized inequalities. Warm real-life relationships that manage to span the cultural divide. A genuine caring for others despite economic and generational differences.
Also in Sunday’s CA, Otis Sanford says the movie caused him to reflect on his own childhood in Mississippi.
Jamie Satterfield has taken a long look at the indigent defense fund, through which the state pays for legal services to those facing a criminal charge without money to pay for a lawyer.
There’s a lot of background information, but the focus is on Knox County spending more from the fund than any other county in the state…. and doing so for years.
That is illustrated by this table, which accompanies the article:
A comparison of Tennessee’s most populous counties showing the percentage of the state’s $36.8 million indigent defense fund each used during the last fiscal year and the percentage of the state’s population that resides within each county.
– Knox County: 7 percent of the state’s population; 17 percent of money charged the indigent defense fund
– Davidson County: 10 percent of the state’s population; 16.6 percent of money charged the indigent defense fund
– Hamilton County: 5.4 percent of state’s population; 5.5 percent of money charged the indigent defense fund
– Shelby County: 14.6 percent of state’s population; 14.9 percent of money charged the indigent defense fund