crime

TN political leaders decry church shooting; Trump silent

Tennessee politicians expressed concern and sympathy for victims of a Sunday shooting in an Antioch church that left one woman dead and seven others injured, mostly in tweets. While collecting some of those tweets in one story, The Tennessean also reports that President Donald Trump did not tweet condolences as he “spent Sunday in a Twitter battle with professional athletes over patriotism.”

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Former county mayor, employees indicted on theft charges

News release from state comptroller’s office

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, working in conjunction with the investigator from the 24th Judicial District, has released an investigation related to several former Decatur County employees and former County Mayor Michael Smith.

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Former state rep gets 21-year sentence for Ponzi scheme

One-time Tennessee legislator Larry Bates drew a prison sentence of 21 years and 10 months for a $20 million Ponzi scheme around the family business of selling gold and silver to investors on Tuesday, reports the Memphis Daily News.

Bates and his family did so with an appeal based on political and economic instability and focused on pitches on Christian media outlets as well as their own Information Radio Network Inc.

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Indictment issued in ‘acts of hate’ against TN mosque

News release from U.S. attorney’s office, Nashville

Charles Dwight Stout, III, 19, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury and charged with obstruction of justice, announced Jack Smith, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. The charge relates to the ongoing investigation into the vandalism of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on July 10, 2017.

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Three charged with election law violations in Bluff City

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

JOHNSON CITY – An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in three Bluff City residents being charged with violating an election law.

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TN sheriff gets prison time for having sex with women jail inmates, beating male inmate

Former Fentress County Sheriff Charles S. “Chucky” Cravens was sentenced to two years, nine months in prison Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger of Nashville, reports The Tennessean.

I do take responsibility for my actions,” he told the judge, hands folded behind his Wranglers. “What I done, I done it myself.”

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State offers $10,000 reward in murder of Memphis toddler

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE  Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension, arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for the June murder of a toddler in Memphis.

“We want whoever is responsible for this tragic crime to be brought to justice,” Haslam said.  “No tips are too small and we ask anyone who may have witnessed anything near the crime scene or with any knowledge of the case to come forward.”

Two-year old Laylah Washington was traveling in a car with her mother on June 11 when struck by gunfire from an approaching vehicle on Kirby Rd. near Raines Rd. The child subsequently passed away at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

District Attorney General Amy Weirich requested the reward from the governor to help generate leads in this unsolved case. The Memphis Police Department is investigating the case.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact the Memphis Crime Stoppers at 901-528-2274.

Mayor’s daughter and her husband face murder charges in toddler son’s death

The parents of a 2-year-old boy who died after being left in a vehicle overnight at the Gatlinburg home of a Middle Tennessee mayor were arraigned Monday on felony murder charges, reports the News Sentinel.

Jade Elizabeth Phillips, 24, and her husband, Anthony Dyllan Phillips, 26… are accused of causing the death of their son, Kipp, by leaving the toddler inside a car overnight and into the afternoon of July 14 while temperatures soared into the 90s. The child’s official cause of death has not been made public.

Division lines between husband and wife are already being formed in what could become a defense blame game – typical when two people are charged in the same crime.

Jade Phillips, daughter of Westmoreland Mayor Jerry Kirkman, has posted her $250,000 bond and has hired veteran Knoxville defense attorney Tasha Blakney. She appeared in court Monday dressed in a black dress and gray sweater, her father seated beside her in the courtroom before Ogle took the bench.

Her husband was dressed in a black-and-white striped jail jumpsuit, unable to post bond. There was no one there on his behalf. Amber Haas, a veteran with the 4th Judicial District Public Defender’s Office, was appointed to represent him. Anthony Phillips cast a glance at his wife as she was leaving the courtroom. She did not look in his direction.

Sheriff, already under indictment, faces new flap over helping bail-bondsman wife in multi-state manhunt

Start of a Times Free Press report on Sunday:

In one epic April weekend, Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson threatened a group of inmates for talking trash about his bail-bondsman wife; embroiled more than a dozen law officers in a multistate manhunt for one of her bail skips; and pulled a gun on a motorist in Georgia, where he has no authority — all with his wife and another bondsman riding along in his official sheriff’s vehicle.

The episode lends weight to complaints from the Bradley County bail bonding community of a thumb on the scales in favor of the sheriff’s wife, Tenille Watson. It also echoes allegations of wrongdoing by Sheriff Watson forwarded last year to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

That TBI investigation resulted in Watson being indicted on six felony counts of using forged or altered vehicle titles in connection with his sideline business as a used-car dealer. Watson was booked July 21. No court date had been set in that case as of Friday. TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said Thursday the investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile, local attorneys asked to review documents and videos related to Watson’s Easter weekend activities say he could have opened himself up to liability ranging from civil rights violations to kidnapping and aggravated assault.

The Times Free Press sent Watson a detailed list of questions Thursday morning about his activities that weekend and asked for his comment. He did not respond.

Judge ends offer of reduced jail time for vasectomies, blames state Dept. of Health

White County General Sessions Court Judge Sam Benningfield has rescinded his controversial offer to reduce the jail sentences of male prisoners who get vasectomies and female prisoners who get contraceptive implants, reports WTVF-TV. He blames the state health officials for the decision.

The contraceptive procedures were offered free by the state Department of Health when the judge in May issued an order authorizing 30-days off jail times for inmates who undergo the procedures. He issued a new order rescinding the offer for new inmates, saying officials have advised him the department “will no longer offer free vasectomies… and will not provide the free Nexplanon implant” to White County inmates who get a sentence reduction.

The judge said in his order that those who had already signed up – at least 32 women and 38 men, according to an earlier report — will still get the 30-day sentence reduction without going through the procedures. The order says these inmates have “demonstrated to the court their desire to improve their situations and take serious and considered steps toward their rehabilitation.”

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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