JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — A Jackson police officer is being credited with helping change a state law that deals with stricter penalties for sex offenders.
Jackson police investigator Mark Headen says he became mad when he learned that a violent sex offender was again suspected of stalking more than a dozen women.
The Jackson Sun reports that Headen (http://bit.ly/Lyii2g ) proposed a state amendment to increase indecent exposure and stalking charges to Class E felonies punishable by up to six years in prison if the crime is committed by a registered sex offender.
Before Headen worked to change the law, anyone charged with indecent exposure would be charged with a Class B misdemeanor punishable with a maximum 30 days in jail, while a stalking charge was a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days.
Hours after former Knox County Trustee Mike Lowe was arraigned Monday on felony theft charges, his attorney went on the attack, reports the News Sentinel. He asked a court to toss the case because the state tarried too long and crucial records are missing as a result. Defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs on Monday afternoon filed a motion seeking dismissal of the charges upon which Lowe was arraigned that morning at a brief hearing before Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword.
Lowe is accused in two indictments of felony theft. In one, he is charged along with former employee Ray Mubarak of making fraudulent payments totaling more than $60,000 to Mubarak and Mubarak’s title-search company, Tennessee Residential Services. In the other, he is accused of making fraudulent payments also totaling more than $60,000 to former employees Delbert Morgan and John Haun. The various charges date as far back as 2004.
All four men appeared before Sword for arraignment Monday. Lowe and Mubarak, who is represented by attorneys Tom Dillard and Stephen Ross Johnson, entered not guilty pleas. Sword set a Dec. 3 trial date. Attorneys Jeffrey Z. Daniel and John Valliant reserved entry of pleas on behalf of Morgan and Haun, respectively. Sword set a July 13 status conference in all four cases. A fifth defendant, Rhonda Jan Thomas, faces a Friday arraignment in a related case.
Isaacs argues in his motion the Knox County District Attorney’s Office knew or should have known about the theft allegations as far back as June 2007 when an audit by Rodefer Moss made findings Isaacs contends are a mirror image of the conclusions reported by a special grand jury last month after an 18-month review
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House passed a bill that would make it a felony to make or sell synthetic drugs often called bath salts that imitate controlled substances.
The bill passed unanimously during the House floor session on Monday. Sponsor Rep. Jon Lundberg, a Republican from Bristol, said the drugs have hit his district in northeast Tennessee hard after Virginia banned the drugs and people have been crossing state lines to purchase the drugs in stores in Tennessee.
Lundberg said the drugs are not marketed for ingestion and can be purchased in convenience and tobacco stores. The bill would also allow authorities to declare the stores where the drugs are sold as public nuisances.
The Senate has not yet passed its version of the bill.
News release from TBI:
Johnson City, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested a former county employee for her role in a theft case involving funds from the Johnson County Solid Waste Transfer station after she was indicted by the Johnson County grand jury late last week.
Kelly Horne, 44, of Tanglewood Drive, Mountain City, Tenn. was charged with one count of theft over $10,000, four counts of forgery, four counts of hindering a secured creditor and one count of official misconduct. All the charges are felonies. Horne began working as the secretary for the Johnson County Mayor in September of 2010 where she was responsible for depositing checks and cash from residents who paid a fee to the Johnson County Solid Waste Transfer station. Between September 2010 and August 2011, Horne took more than $40,000 dollars from those funds for her personal use.
Between August 2009 and June 2010 on four different occasions, Horne signed the names of other individuals on four discharge of lien forms for three of Horne’s personal vehicles and applied for new titles. Horne had worked in the Johnson County Clerk’s office before being employed in the mayor’s office. The official misconduct charge was for committing the offenses was working as a public servant and using the county position for personal gain.
The 1st Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested the TBI investigation following a Tennessee Comptroller’s audit of the Johnson County Mayor’s office. Horne was booked into the Johnson County Jail today on a $15,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in criminal court on April 18, 2012.
A former Gov. Phil Bredesen-appointed member of the state Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Collection Service Board now faces federal charges, including 16 felony counts, related to three different investment schemes.
More from The City Paper: In March 2011, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrested Edward Shannon Polen, on three felony charges of theft, but the full scale of his alleged crimes came into focus on Monday when prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nashville charged Polen with scamming 74 individual investors and banks out of $8,796,000.
Bredesen appointed Polen to the Collection Service Board, which oversees debt collection agencies in the state, in July 2008. He served a full term, before resigning on April 5, 2011, according to board minutes.
Polen, also a former Robertson County commissioner, is charged with five counts of bank fraud, three counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering for operating three investment schemes.
“Despite his assurances to investor-victims of significant returns on their investment … Edward Shannon Polen never intended to invest their funds as promised,” the charges state.
News relese from state Department of Revenue:
Clinton, Tenn. – The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department
of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment and surrender
of Jerry Lee Hatmaker, age 64, of Knoxville, Tenn. On Dec. 14, 2011, Hatmaker
surrendered to authorities at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. Bond was
set at $25,000.
On Dec. 12, 2011, the Anderson County Grand Jury returned a 4 count indictment
for Evasion of Sales Tax in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 67-1-1440, a
Class E felony. Hatmaker was also indicted on one count of Filing a False
Report, one count of Perjury, and one count of Forgery. The indictment charges
that Hatmaker obstructed the State in the collection of sales tax by falsifying
records relating to his purchase of a boat, resulting in underreported sales tax
“The Department of Revenue promotes voluntary taxpayer compliance by educating
taxpayers, aggressively pursuing criminal sanctions and demanding accountability
when taxpayers engage in fraudulent activity,” said Revenue Commissioner Richard
H. Roberts. “This indictment underscores the department’s ongoing efforts to
enforce Tennessee’s tax laws.”
Prosecution of this criminal case was pursued by the department in cooperation
with District Attorney General Dave Clark’s office. Citizens who suspect
violations of Tennessee’s revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot
line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).
In addition to collecting state taxes, $2.0 billion of local sales and business
taxes were collected by the department for local governments during the 2011
fiscal year. Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws
fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance.
The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the
various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the
department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.
A three-year effort to obtain a pardon from the president of the United States ended Monday when a Jonesborough, Tenn., man learned Barack Obama had pardoned him of a 16-year-old federal felony conviction, reports the News Sentinel. In a written statement, Thomas Paul Ledford of Jonesborough said he was contacted by phone at 9:50 a.m. on Monday that the president had signed his pardon.
“I’m stunned,” he wrote. “I am a pardoned felon. My wife believed it was possible. I believed the pardon would never be granted.”
Ledford pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit gambling on June 12, 1995. He was fined $50 and served 12 months of probation.
“Although I never spent one day in jail, the gravity of my conviction follows me always,” he said in a Dec. 9, 2008, request for pardon.
…Saundra Ledford got the application from the Department of Justice online. Next, they collected the necessary documentation, court transcripts and letters of recommendation. Then they sent the package off to Washington, D.C.. An FBI agent then interviewed Ledford’s friends, family and employers.
“My husband was very adamant no calls be placed to anyone,” Saundra Ledford said. “We don’t know anybody in positions of power. A lot of people say you have to have clout. We’re just regular people.”
In his statement, Tom Ledford thanked the president: “By God’s grace, I won’t let them down.”
ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam doesn’t intend to update the state’s new law limiting payouts in successful lawsuits against doctors and other businesses, despite calls from some members of his own party for changes to be made in the upcoming legislative session.
The Republican governor tells The Associated Press that he isn’t aware of any push to change the law that caps non-economic damages at $750,000.
Haslam said he’s met with more than 100 businesses since the law was enacted and that the response has been universally positive.
But Republican Rep. Vance Dennis of Savannah has filed a bill seeking to lift the cap in cases where injuries were caused during a felony, while Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, also a Republican, has called for lowering the caps to less than $300,000.
(Note: Dennis’ felony amendment was part of the bill as passed by the House in the past session, but was not in the Senate version. In asking House members to go along with the Senate version this year — as they did — Dennis said he had been assured by Senate leadership that they would support the felon provision if presented in a seprate bill next year. )
(Note: The News Sentinel’s business editor asked for an update story on tort reform legislation. This is what he got, also available HERE.)
While some version of Gov. Bill Haslam’s tort reform bill appears virtually assured of passage by the Legislature, specifics are being altered during sometimes theatrical debates.
In the House Judiciary Committee last week, for example, Republican lawmakers united to kill most revisions proposed by critics of the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011. But they broke rank with the governor on a “bad actor” provision that leaves some intentional wrongdoers facing unlimited liability.
For most lawsuit defendants, the bill (HB2008) would for the first time in Tennessee impose caps on “noneconomic” or punitive damages. The size of those caps – and exactly whom they will cover – has been the most controversial matter of discussion. But the bill contains multiple other changes in state tort law with the Haslam-declared goal of making Tennessee more business-friendly in hopes of attracting more job-creating investments.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee, a recent theatrical highlight was former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson’s acknowledgement that he became the victim of a “gotcha” moment that left some of his fellow Republicans chortling.
“It was rather comical,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters afterward, adding that it “didn’t help” lawyer-and-actor Thompson’s credibility as lead lobbyist for the Tennessee Association of Justice, which is spearheading opposition to the bill.