Tag Archives: TBI

Justice Wade’s missing son found safe

Aaron Zachary “Zack” Wade, the son of former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, has been found safe at a West Virginia ski town, a six-hour drive from his hometown of Sevierville, reports the News Sentinel.

A combined search effort by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Sevierville Police Department led to Wade’s discovery in Snowshoe, W.Va., around 10 p.m., according to his father.

“Without their help, there was no way we could have determined what his fate was,” Gary Wade said Thursday, adding that his son will arrive back in Sevier County about 2 p.m.

Wade, 41, was reported missing Wednesday afternoon after family was unable to contact him. He was last seen about 7:50 a.m. Tuesday on state Highway 66, also known as Windfield Dunn Parkway, in Sevierville.

“He was on his way to make a bank deposit and he took nothing with him,” Gary Wade said. “We were so afraid that he had been intercepted, abducted. Thank God he is safe.”

The family owns the Clarion Inn in Sevierville.

…Gary Wade, now dean of the Lincoln Memorial University law school in Knoxville, said Thursday that his son has had several personal issues over the past few years, and now that he is found the family will focus on getting the father of two the help that he needs.

“We’re having a prayer meeting together as a family with Zack this afternoon; we will try to resolve whatever insecurities that he may have,” Gary Wade said, adding that the family feels very grateful to the law enforcement and members of the community.

TBI: $60K stolen from Disabled Veterans

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities say a Byrdstown man has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a Disabled American Veterans fund.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says 65-year-old Glen Williams has been indicted by a Pickett County grand jury on a charge of theft over $60,000. He was arrested at his home Wednesday and was booked on $100,000 bond.

The TBI says agents began investigating a report of missing funds from the Honor Guard financial account of the Hull-York chapter of the Disabled American Veterans in Byrdstown on Aug. 11. Investigators say Williams, a former Disabled American Veterans commander, began stealing money from the account in December 2013

Former Gibson County sheriff and employees indicted

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
JACKSON – A joint investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and investigators with the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has resulted in the indictment and arrest of the former Gibson County Sheriff and several of his former employees on charges including theft and official misconduct.

At the request of 28th District Attorney General Pro Tem Rachel Sobrero, on January 28th, TBI Special Agents joined investigators with the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury to investigate a report that when current Sheriff Paul Thomas took office in September 2014, items were missing from the Sheriff’s Department. During the course of the investigation, an audit was performed and the results showed several discrepancies between the dates of July 2013 through September 2014, in the areas of employee pay compensation, drug fund accounting, and distribution of prescriptions made out in inmates’ names.

Through the investigation, TBI Agents learned that former Sheriff Chuck Arnold and former Chief Deputy Jeff Maitland allowed employees to be paid for regular and/or overtime hours they didn’t work. Special Agents also developed information that Arnold, Maitland and Renea Terrell, a nurse practitioner who contracted with the Sheriff’s Department, were involved in writing and filling prescriptions for controlled substances in the names of inmates who never received the medication. The investigation further revealed that Arnold removed money from the drug fund for his personal use, and forged documents using another individual’s name.

On Monday, the Gibson County Grand Jury returned indictments charging 12 individuals on a variety of charges. This evening, those individuals were arrested, and at the time of this release, were being booked into the Gibson County Correctional Complex.

The list of those charged is as follows:
Continue reading

TBI arrests police sergeant on child porn charges

News release from TBI
NASHVILLE – Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have arrested and charged a Sergeant of the Murfreesboro Police Department in an ongoing child pornography investigation.

During the course of a recent investigation, TBI Agents developed information which led to Kevin Wayne Dunn as an individual who had distributed images consistent with child pornography.

Today, Agents arrested the 42-year-old Murfreesboro man and charged him with five counts of Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. Agents subsequently booked him into the Rutherford County Jail on a $750,000 bond.

TDOC, TBI say destroying records of dismissed Nashville cases would cost $14M

A proposal to erase criminal charges filed against about 128,000 people in Nashville has come under fire by some who say it would cost more than $14 million to carry out, according to The Tennessean.

Eight objections were filed in court, prompting Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz, who brought the class-action case, to make what could be a key change for the idea’s survival. The new element is people would have to opt in to the case to have their records destroyed, instead of opting out, as Horwitz had originally proposed.

Horwitz filed the class-action case before Davidson County General Sessions Judge Rachel Bell in September. It would require that agencies destroy records of 350,000 charges filed against 128,000 people that were dismissed or never prosecuted.

…The Tennessee Department of Correction said in court papers it would cost $6.1 million to destroy their records.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it already has a backlog of 1,194 orders to destroy cases each month. To destroy records for the 350,000 charges as sought in this case would cost $8.6 million, according to documents filed on behalf of TBI.

Horwitz said TBI’s estimate was more than 100 times what other agencies estimated the cost to be.

“People’s lives shouldn’t be used as leverage to expand a government budget,” he said. “Additionally, given the myriad unresolved problems that exist within Tennessee’s prison system right now, it’s a shame that the TBI and the Department of Correction have focused their attention on shutting down a popular local effort to help thousands of innocent people clear their names.”

Metro government and the state agencies say in court filings that the case cannot be heard in General Sessions court.

Metro Nashville Department of Law says in its objection that the state expungement law, as enacted by the legislature, means only an individual can request to expunge their own case.

In a September hearing, District Attorney Glenn Funk and Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry said they supported the mass-destruction of records. Horwitz said 22 individuals and organizations support the effort. He has requested a hearing set for next week be pushed back.

TBI to investigate police-involved deaths

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will now handle all inquiries into officer-involved deaths for both the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, reports the Commercial Appeal.

That includes any officer-involved shootings as well as suspicious prisoner deaths while in custody, officials said.

All three departments as well as the Shelby County District Attorney’s office signed the “memorandum of understanding” on Oct. 1.

…In a prepared statement, Armstrong said the agreement is “another step in the right direction to ensure transparency.” However, the memorandum contains no provisions for making the results of those investigations public. Under state law, all TBI investigations are sealed.

That can hamper the public’s understanding of what happened in such a shooting, or why an officer was not prosecuted.

In 2012, for example, former Memphis police officer Terrance Shaw shot and killed 15-year-old Justin Thompson under questionable circumstances. The TBI investigated, and the D.A. declined to indict Shaw.

However, the TBI file was never released, and the only reason details were revealed to the public was because they were included in Shaw’s MPD personnel file.

AG: Punctuation prohibits city subpoena of TBI records

Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office provides a punctuation lesson in giving a negative answer to a question from state Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis.

From the opinion:

You have asked whether a city council with subpoena power under its charter has the authority to issue a subpoena for investigative records of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7-504(a)(2)(A) provides that “[a]ll investigative records of the Tennessee bureau of investigation . . . shall be treated as confidential and shall not be open to inspection by members of the public.” Such information shall be disclosed to the public “only in compliance with a subpoena or an order of a court of record.” Id. (emphasis added).

As a matter of syntax, the italicized prepositional phrase—“of a court of record”— functions as an adjective in § 10-7-504(a)(2)(A). Thus, the answer to the question depends on whether the adjectival phrase “of a court of record” modifies both its antecedent nouns, i.e., “subpoena” and “order,” or whether it modifies only “order.”

…The two antecedent nouns are connected by the conjunction “or.” There is no comma separating the two antecedent nouns. If there were a comma after “subpoena” to separate it from the rest of the sentence, then “or” would be properly read as a disjunctive rather than as a coordinating conjunction, and the adjectival phrase would then properly be read to modify only “order.” But since there is no comma separating the two nouns, “or” functions grammatically as a coordinating conjunction, tying the two antecedent nouns together and requiring that the adjectival phrase be read as modifying both its antecedent nouns.

Parkinson tells he sought the opinion in exploring options for local officials when TBI investigates police shootings.

“Especially in cases of officer shootings, people have the right to know what happened,” he said. “I do also understand the need to make sure the investigations are not tainted, and that the information is not put out there too early.”

In Tennessee, large police agencies — including those in Memphis and Nashville — for the most part investigate their own officers when deadly force is used. But the district attorney in Memphis called on TBI to investigate the July shooting of 19-year-old Darrius Stewart, citing a racial angle, according to media reports. Stewart was black. The officer who shot him, Connor Schilling, 26, was white.

TBI: State worker swapped food stamps for sex

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
NASHVILLE – Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for a Nashville man accused of misusing his position as an Eligibility Counselor for the Department of Human Services.

After receiving information from the Tennessee Department of Human Services, and at the request of DHS and the 20th District Attorney General Glenn Funk, TBI Special Agents began investigating Alfred Awonuga on March 18th. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that from March 2014 through March 2015, Awonuga used his position to attempt to get a participant in the state’s food assistance program to have sex with him in exchange for benefits. Agents further learned Awonuga manipulated the program in a separate incident by obtaining benefits for an applicant who would otherwise not be eligible in an attempt to get the participant to have sex with him. When she declined, the investigation revealed Awonuga facilitated the termination of her benefits and later communicated with her that he could assist her in getting her benefits reinstated, while continuing to express a desire in a sexual relationship. The agency subsequently terminated his employment.

On August 28th, the Davidson County Grand Jury returned indictments for Awonuga, charging the 48-year-old with six counts of Official Misconduct and one count of Attempted Official Misconduct. Authorities arrested Awonuga and booked him into the Davidson County Jail, where at the time of this release, he was being held on $20,000 bond.

Columnist sees TBI being used for political purposes

Columnist Frank Cagle thinks the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is being dragged into local politics, citing recent cases in Jefferson and Anderson counties, and that this is not a good thing. An excerpt:

The thing that is worrisome about this whole mess (in Jefferson County) is local officials using the TBI to punish political enemies.

Isolated case? Maybe not.

The political atmosphere over in Anderson County is toxic. While Mayor Terry Frank was running for re-election last year, a TBI agent was going around the courthouse interviewing people about possible wrong-doing in awarding a contract. The rumor was that Frank was going to be indicted just any time. She managed to win anyway, but the TBI “investigation” surely didn’t help anything.

Knox County Chancellor Mike Moyers reviewed the contract and ruled that no one did anything improper.

This was a plainly a dispute between political enemies about the validity of a contract. A difference of opinion on state purchasing law. It was properly adjudicated in a Chancery Court. How did this involve a crime to be investigated by the TBI? The important issue here is that some local officials manipulated the TBI into engaging in an “investigation” into a flimsy allegation in order to inflict political damage on Frank.

This isn’t the first dispute between political enemies in Anderson County and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Have at it, folks. But the TBI needs to be careful about criminalizing civil disputes and political spats. Somebody in Nashville had better pay attention. The agency has the discretion to investigate whatever it wishes to investigate. It also has the discretion to ignore what is patently a witch-hunt.

The TBI has a good reputation as a law enforcement organization around the state. It needs to stop letting local politicians besmirch people’s reputations and, by so doing, besmirch the reputation of the TBI itself.

Kelsey joins Hardaway in pushing TBI investigation of TN police shootings

Emailed statement from Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown:
The recent shooting death of Darrius Stewart by a Memphis police officer has brought the national debate about the reliability of investigating officer-involved deaths close to home.

I am joining Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) to propose legislation on the issue. Our bill will require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to conduct investigations every time a person is critically injured or killed in a situation involving a law enforcement officer.

This legislation will promote public confidence in the quality and integrity of these types of investigations. It will also prevent conflicts of interest, in which police departments must investigate their own officers.

A recent Harvard University study found that 66% of black Americans aged 18-29 have “not much” or “no” confidence in the legal system’s fairness, and a 2014 Gallup study found that only 37% of blacks have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police. While a lack of confidence in law enforcement is no excuse to resist arrest or assault a police officer, it is important to acknowledge that public perceptions matter.

The bill will allow disclosure of the results of TBI investigations, adding further transparency to the process. Under current law, if a prosecutor decides not to prosecute a case, the entire investigation must remain confidential. That lack of information does not engender confidence in the decision.

As always, I am eager to hear from you about this or any legislation before the General Assembly. It is a privilege to serve as senator of the 31st district.

Note: Previous post HERE.