News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Deputy to the Governor Claude Ramsey will retire at the end of August to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren in Chattanooga.
Ramsey has been integral to Haslam on several key initiatives, including civil service reform, economic development efforts, workforce development training and improved operation of state government.
“Claude’s experience at the state and local levels of government and his common sense approach have been invaluable assets to our administration, and I am incredibly grateful to him and his wife, Jan, for their time in Nashville and commitment to the state of Tennessee.”
When he joined the administration in January 2011, Ramsey agreed to serve as deputy to the governor for two years but has stayed on past his original commitment. Before joining the Haslam administration, Ramsey was in his fifth term as Hamilton County mayor, having played key roles in educational and economic successes in Southeast Tennessee.
“It’s been a true pleasure to work with the governor on the important issues of job growth, education reform and making Tennessee the best-run state in the country,” Ramsey said. “The governor is a man of integrity with a clear vision for the state, and I will do anything I can to help him in the future as he continues to serve.”
Ramsey, 70, was elected to the General Assembly in 1972 where he served four years. He was the assessor of property in Hamilton County from 1980-1994 and was a county commissioner for two years. He served 16 years as Hamilton County mayor.
Ramsey’s last day on the job will be August 31.
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested a Meigs County Sheriff’s deputy after he was indicted by the Rhea County grand jury earlier this week on charges stemming from a shooting incident in Rhea County last year.
Bradley Collins, 35, of Spring City, was indicted on one count of aggravated assault and two counts of reckless endangerment. On September 23, 2012, while off duty, Collins responded to his sister’s residence on Old Stage Road in Spring City after being informed that she was assaulted by her father, 46-year-old Randall Lee Copeland.
When Collins arrived at the residence, he discovered that his sister as safe and Copeland had returned to his residence next door. Knowing that Rhea County Sheriff’s Department was responding, Collins walked to Copeland’s residence with his duty pistol. Collins alleges that Copeland had a rifle in his hands, refused to put it down, and Collins fired twice at him. Copeland was not shot. Owners of a nearby home were outside working on a vehicle when Collins fired the weapon. The 12th Judicial District Attorney General requested TBI to investigate the shooting incident.
Collins was booked into the Rhea County Jail this morning on a $10,000 bond.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Two officers with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office have resigned after separate DUI arrests.
According to The Daily News Journal (http://on.dnj.com/14OPnSY ), one of the officers was also charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon while under the influence. He is 41-year-old Ronnie Pugh, who was a detention officer with the sheriff’s department. Pugh was arrested Saturday by a state trooper.
The arrest warrant on Sgt. Trent Thomas Givens states a Rutherford County deputy saw the 37-year-old Givens driving is vehicle through people’s yards early Monday. He performed poorly on field sobriety tests and smelled of alcohol.
Both men resigned from the department after their arrests on suspicion of DUI.
Pugh has also been suspended as a volunteer firefighter with the Rutherford County Fire and Rescue Department
From a Chattanooga TFP story: The ostensible reason for firing former Bradley County deputy Dallas Longwith was that he was seen mowing the yard in December, wearing only his underwear.
The real reason Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth fired him a year ago, Longwith claims in a federal lawsuit, is Longwith was open about plans to support state Rep. Eric Watson if he runs against Ruth next year.
“It had nothing to do with work-related stuff — it was just to get rid of me because I had an affiliation with the man who might be the next sheriff of Bradley County,” Longwith told the Times Free Press.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, seeks $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
In it, Longwith claims that Ruth, a Republican, “systematically demoted, cut pay and/or changed the shifts of Sheriff’s deputies who had openly supported” Democrat Steve Lawson.
A Lake County sheriff’s deputy (who resigned last week) has been arrested and charged with counts of sexual battery and sexual misconduct, which were allegedly committed against two underage females, reports the Dyersburg State Gazette.. On Thursday, agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation took Mario Montgomery, 33, into custody and he was charged with one count of sexual battery by an authority figure and one count of sexual misconduct by an authority figure.
TBI spokesperson Kristen Helm could not give out further details about the case, but she did confirm the victims were female juveniles and the TBI has been investigating allegations against Montgomery for the past two weeks.
Montgomery was a Lake County Sheriff’s deputy up until last week, after which he resigned from his post. He is also an alderman for the city of Tiptonville.
Lt. Danny Tippitt II with the Lake County Sheriff’s Dept. stated Sheriff Bryan Avery has referred all questions about the case to the TBI since they are in charge of the investigation.
News release from Comptroller’s Office:
A Lauderdale County deputy sheriff repeatedly spent undercover funds for unauthorized purposes and falsified documents to cover his tracks, a report by the Comptroller’s Division of County Audit has found.
The same deputy, Jason Winchester, used his county cell phone for personal business and overstated the amount of compensatory time he had earned. Winchester’s actions resulted in a cash shortage of more than $4,000, although the total could have been higher because the records of undercover fund expenditures were falsified.
As a result of the investigation by the Comptroller’s office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Winchester was fired last year and later indicted on charges including official misconduct, theft of property, tampering with governmental records, forgery, fabricating evidence and misrepresenting information to a state auditor.
The audit, which was released today, can be found online at http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/ca/CountyAudits.asp?C=49.
In all, the audit had 11 findings and recommendations for improvement. Several of the findings highlighted issues that were identified in previous audits, but never properly addressed.
For example, expenditures for the Office of Director of Schools exceeded the office’s approved budget by almost $150,000 because officials failed to properly account for costs related to school renovation contracts.
Also, the Offices of the Highway Commissioner and Director of Schools had accounting records that were incorrect and had to be adjusted at the end of the fiscal year.
Some non-governmental employees, including lawyers and title researchers, were given keys to the Office of the Register and allowed unsupervised access to the office after business hours.
And the Office of the Trustee did not have adequate safeguards in place to protect its information resources.
“I applaud our investigators and those from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for their work in uncovering the activities that led to the firing and indictment of the sheriff’s deputy,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “However, this audit raises a number of other areas of concern. It is troubling to me that issues identified in previous audits have not been addressed. When that happens, I think it’s fair for the taxpayers of Lauderdale County to wonder why reasonable steps aren’t being taken to help safeguard public dollars.”
To report suspected cases of fraud, waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars, call the Comptroller’s hotline at 1-800-232-5454.
News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation:
Chattanooga, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested a former McMinn County Sheriff’s Office deputy for one count of official oppression after he was indicted by the McMinn County grand jury earlier this week.
Justin Hester, 28, of 263 County Road 587, Englewood, Tenn. was charged as a result of a TBI investigation that began in November 2011. While working as a McMinn County deputy, Hester made numerous traffic stops between the summer of 2011 and November 2011 which were not documented with the county’s dispatch. The investigation revealed that Hester removed prescription narcotics, such as oxycodone, from the individuals and the vehicles he stopped and searched. He did not arrest or charge the individuals nor did he turn the pills into the evidence room at the sheriff’s office, keeping them for himself. Many of the individuals did not realize Hester took the pills until after the traffic stop was concluded. Hester resigned from the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office in December 2011.
Hester was booked into the McMinn County Jail and booked on a $5,000 bond.
A former FBI agent who claims Nashville’s mosques have no legal right to exist is training the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office about Islam and the threats of terrorism, according to The Tennessean. John Guandolo, vice president of the Arlington, Va.-based Strategic Engagement Group, is leading training being held at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro. He spoke at an anti-Shariah law event at Cornerstone Church in Madison on Nov. 11, calling local mosques front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood with no right to exist.
“They do not have a First Amendment right to do anything,” Guandolo said then.
Rutherford Sheriff Robert Arnold said his department simply wants to learn about Muslim culture.
“There are not many classes out there for anything when it comes to Muslims … but this training isn’t just about that, it has many other components to it,” he said. “My stance is and my office’s stance is, we are not here to pick sides. I am here to protect the people of this county, and I am never going to waiver from that.”
News release from state Department of Education:
NASHVILLE – Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman today is pleased to announce Dr. Kathleen Airhart as the department of education’s new deputy commissioner, and Dr. Danielle Mezera as the assistant commissioner of career and technical education.
Airhart currently serves as director of schools in Putnam County, and Mezera is the director of the Nashville Mayor’s Office of Children and Youth.
“Dr. Airhart has been a visionary leader in Putnam, implementing far-reaching reforms during her tenure as director,” Huffman said.
A new law that strengthens how Tennessee deals with identity theft takes effect Friday, and it had its start with Sgt. Brian Farris of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department, reports the Shelbyville Times-Gazette. “Working a lot of identity theft cases, there was no jurisdiction,” Farris said. “Bad guys were getting away with stuff … falling through the cracks.” If your identity was stolen by someone out of state, using your credit card number to run up charges totalling thousands, in the past, officials from that jurisdiction would say “well, we don’t have a victim, so we don’t have a crime,” Farris said.
Farris contacted Sen. Jim Tracy and Rep. Pat Marsh, both Shelbyville Republicans. They had him work with legislative staff to draft the bill, HB151 (link to bill summary page HERE) and it passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into law May 27. “Everybody should go and watch how you take something, an idea that came from nothing, see it put on paper and then develop it, get it through subcommittees, and then put it on the floor for a full vote so that everybody can review or critique it,” he said.