Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 15, 2007 Tennessee Waltz: Bitter Tune for Eleven Public Officials

Tennessee State Senator Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga held on to his office as long as he could, denying all the while that he was guilty of taking bribes in the 2005 Tennessee Waltz FBI investigation of corruption at the state and local level.

Then on Thursday, July 12, he entered a plea of guilty to a bribery charge. In return, a more serious charge of extortion was dropped. His attorney commented afterwards that the money Crutchfield took was not a bribe; instead, it was a thank you, a tip, a "gratuity."

The next day, former Tennessee State Senator Kathryn Bowers announced that she would enter a guilty plea on Monday, July 16, despite nearly two years of fierce denials to bribe-taking.

Out of 12 arrests, there are 11 guilty pleas or convictions with one remaining individual scheduled for trial in September. My guess is that the remaining trial will never take place---that a guilty plea will be announced on the eve of trial or before.

The FBI did an outstanding job in establishing airtight cases. I've heard more than one person speculate that with a little more time, many more state and local lawmakers could have been snared in the "money for legislation/legislative favors" scheme.

The FBI tapes told a tale of corruption in Nashville and across the state. In the end, not even a legislator/lawyer like Crutchfield could withstand the tale of the tapes.

No comments: