Local News Articles

Smithville Police Arrest Drunk Driver and Shop Lifter

July 14, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police responded to an automobile accident on West Broad Street last week and later charged 29 year old Joel Hayes of 136 Bobby Hayes Road, Smithville with DUI.

Chief Tom Stufano says \"Officers conducting the investigation found that Hayes was intoxicated, which resulted in the accident. Hayes was arrested for Driving under the Influence. He was transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,000 bond. His court date was set for August 2nd.\"

Police also arrested 26 year old Shelly Faye Beene of 104 Cemetery Street, Smithville for Shop Lifting. Officers responded to the Smithville Food Lion after the manager reported that Beene had entered the store, tried to conceal products in her purse, and then left without paying for them. She was stopped by store employees and the items were recovered. The incident was videotaped by store security. Beene was arrested and charged with Theft under $500 and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,000 bond.

Sheriff's Department Makes Quick Arrest in Reported Robbery at Nicole's Market

July 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department made an arrest Saturday in a reported robbery at Nicole's Market on Short Mountain Highway, only two hours after the incident occurred.

Detectives arrested 27 year old Christopher Mooneyham for Theft of Property.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Mooneyham walked into the market and asked the clerk two fix him a sandwich. When the clerk walked away from the cash register, Mooneyham opened the register, took approximately $128.00 in cash, and then fled in a vehicle. The clerk, who said she did not know the man, called 911 to report the crime.

Detectives, during their investigation, discovered that a man believed to be Mooneyham was seen driving a car in a reckless manner near the Market.

Detectives later located Mooneyham and he confessed to the crime. Mooneyham's bond was set at $3,500. His court date is July 26th.

Sheriff's Department Finds Non-Operational Meth Lab

July 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department found a non-operational meth lab last week at Lake Motel on Highway 70 East on a trailer that was filled with trash.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says items found included components such as iodine crystals, ephedrine, red phosphorus, empty pseudoephedrine blister packs, empty heet bottles, and empty brake cleaner cans.

Officers also found receipts from a local business and electronic returned checks from an individual in another county.

Sheriff Ray says detectives are continuing the investigation hoping to find photos of the person on security cameras at the motel.

Several Arrests Made In Joint Undercover Drug Investigation by Sheriff's Department and Alexandria Police

July 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Alexandria Police Department, in recent days, have rounded up several people in a joint undercover drug investigation.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says this investigation has been underway for about a month. \"Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins and I had been talking about doing some work together and he approached me a while back with the idea of using a lady the city was planning to hire as a patrol officer to do some undercover work. We put her in the Alexandria housing project where she worked for a while and then we put her at another place in the county and let her do some undercover work there. She bought dilaudid, hydrocodone, xanax, and prescription drugs from these defendants. This was a cooperative effort between our departments and it's one of many that Chief Collins and I hope to do.\"

Chief Collins says this investigation was very productive. \" As far as I'm concerned, it was a success. I saw the opportunity to use an actual police officer, rather than someone else, as an undercover agent. This officer, Regina Parker, was able to observe and gather intelligence for us on other cases. We went forward with this, made several buys, and have made several arrests. The information that we have gathered will help us make more arrests in the future. Parker has been a law enforcement officer for about eight years. She is highly qualified and has done a lot of undercover work for the Berry Hill and Metro-Nashville Police Departments. She came on board with me in June and we put her right into the housing project. She sacrificed a lot of her personal life. She pretty much had two lives, an undercover life and a home life, but she met this challenge greatly and I commend her. She did a good job making friends and fitting in and was able to buy from some well known drug dealers that we've been trying to get for a long time.\"

Sheriff Ray and Chief Collins say the Alexandria Police Department and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, on June 22nd, sent the undercover officer into an Alexandria business located on Highway 70. The officer was offered marijuana from 46 year old John Pitts Jr. of Nashville Highway, Alexandria. Officers were monitoring the undercover officer and stormed the building. After entering the building, officers found a bag of marijuana. Pitts was arrested and his bond was set at $2,500. Pitts has already pled guilty.

On June 30th, the Sheriff's Department and Alexandria Police Department sent the undercover officer to a room at the Lake Motel on Highway 70 East to purchase Dilaudid. 36 year old Homer Petty of Sparta Highway, Smithville sold a Dilaudid pill to the officer and 44 year old Jimmy Duncan of Sparta Highway assisted in the buy. After Officers conducted a search warrant on Petty's motel room, Petty was charged with Sale and Delivery of a Schedule II drug (Dilaudid) and possession of Drug Paraphernalia (needles). Petty's bond was set at $55,000. Duncan was charged with Criminal Conspiracy to Sell and Deliver a Schedule II Drug (Dilaudid) and his bond was set at $25,000.

Others arrested as a result of this undercover investigation are:

36 year old Teresa Ann Hallback of Sparta Pike, Watertown, charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Sell and Deliver a Schedule III Drug (Hydrocodone). Her bond is set at $80,000 and her court date is August 2nd.

39 year old Lisa Gibbs of North Mill Street, Dowelltown, charged with two counts of Criminal Conspiracy to Sell and Deliver a Schedule III Drug (Hydrocodone). Her bond is set at $80.000 and her court date is August 2nd.

41 year old Sandra Atnip of West Main Street, Smithville, charged with Sale and Delivery of a Schedule III Drug (Hydrocodone). Her bond is set at $80.000 and her court date is August 2nd.

More arrests are expected.

Two Lebanon Men Charged in Alexandria Thefts

July 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two Lebanon men have been charged with recent thefts in Alexandria.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 18 year old Stephen Brennan of Highland Court, Lebanon and 20 year old Justin Marek of Trousdale Ferry Pike, Lebanon are each charged with two counts of Theft and one count of Burglary.

Sheriff Ray says the two stole a four wheeler valued at $3,000 from a residence on Lower Helton Road and they also broke into Prichard's Foods on Highway 53 in Alexandria, where entry was made through the ductwork to an air conditioner. After entry into the building, the men stole cigarettes, other tobacco products and money.

Brennan's bond is set at $15,000 and his court date is July 19th. Bond for Marek set at $25,000 and his court date is August 2nd.

Arrests Made by Sheriff's Department in Rash of Forgeries

July 16, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has solved a rash of forgeries with the arrest of several people.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 20 year old Brandon Herndon of Forrest Avenue, Smithville; 25 year old Stephanie Fagan of Hickory Street, Smithville; and 25 year old Christopher Gammons of Andrew Street, Smithville were arrested after the Sheriff's Department received a report that someone had been forging and then cashing personal checks belonging to a local woman for large amounts of money.

He says sheriff's department detectives found that the checks were stolen from a residence on Forrest Avenue, belonging to a member of Herndon's family. Herndon allegedly stole numerous checks from the residence.

Detectives learned that Fagan filled out at least one of the checks and Gammons filled out five and cashed them. Gammons also allegedly stole another check from one of his family members and then forged and cashed it.

Herndon was charged with theft under $500.00 (Numerous checks). His bond was set at $5,000 and his court date is August 2nd. Fagan was charged with one count of forgery and her bond was set at $5,000. Her court date is August 2nd. Gammons was charged with six counts of forgery and one count of theft under $500.00 (a check). His bond is $32,500 and his court date is August 2nd.

Meanwhile, 38 year old Kelly Gibbs of Evins Mill Road, Smithville was charged with two counts of theft of property under $500, one count of theft of property over $500 and one count of aggravated Burglary while 32 year old Crystal Turner of A.B. Frazier Road, Smithville was charged with four counts of forgery, two counts of theft of property under $500, one count of theft of property over $500, and one count of aggravated burglary.

Sheriff Ray says Gibbs and Turner went in a residence on A.B. Frazier Road and took numerous checks and jewelry. Gibbs allegedly passed two checks at a business in DeKalb County and Turner allegedly forged and passed checks in three DeKalb County businesses. Bond for Turner was set at $32,000 and her court date is August 2nd. Gibbs is currently incarcerated in the Warren County Jail on other charges. More charges are pending.

23 year old Daniel Evans of Windham Street, Smithville was charged with DUI and two counts of simple possession on July 12th. Evans was southbound on Highway 56 north when a deputy noticed him weaving. Evans was stopped and was found to be intoxicated. Also found were morphine pills and klonopin pills. His bond was set at $6,000 and his court date is August 2nd.

Smithville Police Chief Stufano Placed on Administrative Leave Over Allegations of Misconduct by Roy Ray

July 16, 2007
Dwayne Page

By a vote of 3 to 1, the Smithville Aldermen Monday night voted to place Police Chief Tom Stufano on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct lodged against him by Roy Ray of the Belk Community. In the meantime, the department's most senior ranking officer, Richard Jennings, will apparently be the acting Chief.

Ray has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Chief Stufano, the Smithville Police Department, and the City of Smithville claiming he suffered injuries and that his civil and constitutional rights were violated during a misdemeanor traffic stop in February.

Ray's attorney in the lawsuit, Adam Wilding Parrish of Lebanon, came before the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night requesting the investigation of Stufano.

Alderman Jerry Hutchins' Sr. made a motion to place Chief Stufano on administrative leave with pay until the outcome of an independent investigation of the allegations against him. Aldermen Hutchins, Tonya Sullivan and Willie Thomas all voted in favor of the motion, but Aldermen Steve White voted against it, saying he thought it premature to be voting on the suspension until city attorney John Pryor had an opportunity to research what the city's legal options are in dealing with Stufano, whether the mayor or council has the authority to place an employee on administrative leave, and whether a third party, such as the TBI, should conduct an investigation with a pending lawsuit against the city. White asked why the rush? He moved that Hutchins' motion be tabled until the August 6th meeting, but White's motion to table died for the lack of a second. Alderman Cecil Burger was absent Monday night.

Alderman Sullivan said the city should act to protect it's employees as well as the citizens, but expressed concern about the seriousness of Ray's allegations against Stufano.

Some suggest that placing Chief Stufano on leave in this case would be no different than when officer Callie Matthews was placed on administrative leave earlier this year after she was involved in a fatal traffic accident on Foster Road, another case in which the city has been sued. However, it wasn't the council who placed Matthews on leave, it was apparently either Stufano or the city administration.

Ray wants a jury trial and he is seeking compensatory and punitive damages along with his attorney's fees.

The lawsuit alleges that "On or about February 23rd, 2007, Ray was operating his vehicle in Smithville and that Stufano, acting in his official capacity as a law enforcement officer, executed a traffic stop on Ray's vehicle alleging that Ray had violated a misdemeanor traffic offense."

The lawsuit further alleges that "during the course of that stop, Stufano utilized excessive force and assaulted Ray even though Ray posed no threat to the safety of the officer or to himself."

Ray claims he was detained, handcuffed, and transported to the county jail.

After the alleged assault, Ray claims "Stufano threatened to pursue criminal charges against him unless Ray agreed to execute a document releasing Stufano and the City of Smithville for any liability for the injuries sustained."

Ray says he refused to sign any documentation releasing the city from any such liability.

In the lawsuit, Ray alleges that "approximately five months have passed since the date of his injuries and there have been no criminal charges, warrants, or traffic citations issued against him and that as a direct and proximate result of the defendant's acts and omissions, he has suffered serious and painful injuries to his back and shoulder and that these injuries have required medical treatment."

Ray claims that "As a direct and proximate result of the defendant's acts and omissions, he has been caused to suffer great emotional, physical and psychological pain and injury, and has incurred financial liability in the treatment of these injuries."

Ray further contends that the defendant violated his civil and constitutional rights by using excessive force and physically assaulting him while he was in the care and custody of the City of Smithville Police Department.

According to Ray, the police department and the municipal government were negligent in that they owed him a duty to protect him and exercise due diligence in the hiring and disciplining of it's employees and staff; that the defendant breached that duty; that the defendant failed to enforce or initiate policies designed to protect inmates; that the defendant failed to adequately train, discipline, and monitor the training and status of it's employees in the prevention of use of excessive force; and that as a proximate result of this negligence, Ray was physically assaulted and injured."

Ray alleges that "Stufano willfully and knowingly arrested, detained, and incarcerated him for no legitimate or other lawful purpose; that Stufano threatened further criminal prosecution against him unless he released the city from liability; that Stufano knew these allegations to be false and yet proceeded to detain, handcuff, arrest, and briefly incarcerate Ray against his will; that the defendant's actions were out of malice, and or for no legitimate legal purpose; and that the criminal charges, warrants, or traffic citations have never been issued or sworn against Ray."

Ray is represented by Lebanon attorney Adam Wilding Parrish. Named as defendants are Stufano, individually and in his individual and official capacities; John Doe, parties to be determined; the Smithville Police Department; and the Municipal Government of the City of Smithville.

City Aldermen Grant County 30 Year Extension of Sales Tax Agreement

July 16, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Aldermen, by a 3 to 1 vote, Monday night granted the county a thirty year extension of the sales tax agreement.

Aldermen Willie Thomas, Tonya Sullivan, and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. voted for the 30 year extension, but Alderman Steve White voted against it, preferring instead to have a shorter term agreement in the interest of city government and city taxpayers.

White suggested that Sullivan, who made the motion, had an ethical conflict of interest since she is employed as a teacher and that the school system will be receiving the benefit of this agreement. Sullivan stated that she was voting her conscience, and not for any self interest.

In a prepared statement, Sullivan said \"I am satisfied that this is in the best interest of the city, county, and the children of DeKalb County. This commitment will continue to show our concern for the children of Smithville and DeKalb County and that education is a key role to success. This is our opportunity to insure that the county and city work together to prepare for the growth and expansion of our schools. I feel that this has been a long time agreement by those leaders before us and should continue. After working with the DeKalb County Director of Schools, County Mayor, and Mayor Taft Hendrixson, I am satisfied with the efforts of long term planning that will move our schools forward with improvements on current buildings and new schools to come soon to tackle growing pains of DeKalb County Schools.\"

Thomas, in addition to being a city alderman is also a member of the county commission, another apparent conflict of interest, but Thomas stated that he too was voting his conscience on this issue.

After the vote, Mayor Taft Hendrixson called for a recess and he retired to his office downstairs. When he returned some ten minutes later and re-convened the meeting, he told the aldermen that he had considered casting a veto, but decided against it. Had he vetoed the council's vote, the aldermen would have needed four votes to override the veto.

However Mayor Hendrixson said he felt a 30 year agreement with the county was much too long, and that at some point in the future, city property taxpayers will pay for it, through higher taxes. Hendrixson said he favored a ten year agreement.

Since 1968, the City of Smithville, by agreement with the county, has given two thirds of it's local option sales tax collections to the county's education local purpose tax fund to help pay for construction and other school capital outlay projects.

But after the local option sales tax increase was approved by county voters in the May referendum, city officials expressed a desire to place a termination date on the agreement, which for almost 40 years, has been an \"open agreement\" with no ending date on it.

The city is legally obligated to turn over to the county 50% of it's local option sales tax collections for education purposes, but since 1968, the city has been contributing 16 2/3% more than it's share for a total of 66 and 2/3%.

County officials want to keep it that way, but city leaders, before the city election, said they were opposed to signing any extended long term agreement giving the county two thirds of the city's sales tax collections, because Smithville, in spite of a large general fund surplus now, might need that extra money in years to come for needs that are, as of now, unforeseen.

Steve Bates, the county's financial advisor, warned city leaders in June that the county could not do any long range planning with only a short term commitment from the city. He says new schools will have to be built in the coming years and the county must count on that extra sales tax revenue coming in from the city to support such projects. He said the county's bond rating would also be affected.

County Mayor Foster said in June that even by turning over two thirds of it's sales tax collections to the county, the city would still gain about $361,000 every year, plus growth, whereas the county, during the first three or four years, would not gain because of the reduction in the property tax rate, as promised to the voters.

Two More People Picked Up In Undercover Drug Investigation

July 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two more people have been picked up in a joint undercover drug investigation by the Sheriff's Department and the Alexandria Police Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 63 year old Billy Eaton of Sparta Pike, Watertown is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance (hydrocodone) and his bond is set at $40,000.

32 year old Jason Campbell of Smith Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance (hydrocodone) and his bond is set at $40,000.

Both men will be in General Sessions Court on the charges August 2nd.

Meanwhile, in other crime news, Sheriff Ray says officers responded to a call Sunday at the Johnson's Chapel Recreation area where a man was possibly intoxicated and exposing himself. Deputies arrested 41 year old Anthony Brock of Bunker Hill Road, Sparta. But as they placed him in the back seat of the patrol car, Brock kicked out the back window and tried to crawl out. He also began kicking and trying to fight the officers.

Brock was charged with public intoxication, indecent exposure, vandalism, and resisting arrest. His bond is $10,000 and his court date is August 2nd.

On Monday night, Sheriff Ray says officers responded to the Cookeville Boat Dock area where a man had showed up at another person's house, claiming he had been shot. A further investigation revealed that the man had gotten into a fight with another person and had been struck over the head with a beer bottle.

The injured man, Derrick Choate of Cookeville was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Sheriff Ray says the two people with Choate were arrested. 19 year old Joseph Price of Carolina Avenue, Cookeville and 20 year old Lindsey Mahan of Anderson Lane, Cookeville were charged with underage consumption of alcohol. Bond for them was set at $1,500 and their court date is July 26th.

Sheriff Ray says more arrests are pending a further investigation in that case.

Write-In Candidates In Alexandria City Election Must Qualify by July 18th

July 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

Barbara (Bobbie) Crawford has filed a "Certificate of Write-In Candidacy" with the DeKalb County Election Commission announcing her intent to run for the office of alderman in Alexandria.

Her name will not be printed on the ballot. Anyone who wants to vote for her, will have to "write in" her name. The voting machines that will be used allow the voter to do this on the machine rather than requesting a paper ballot. According to Tennessee Election Laws paper ballots are only to be used in an emergency situation when voting machines are not available for use.

Anyone else who wants to run as a write-in candidate in this election must file a certificate at the Election Commission office no later than today (July 18). Call the Election office at 597-4146 for details.

The official slate of candidates for this election, in addition to the write-in candidacy of Crawford include Derrick Baker, Sheila Clayborn, Maureen Tubbs, and James R. Walker.

The voter registration deadline for this election is August 8th at 4:00 p.m..

The deadline to register as a property rights voter is also August 8th. proof of ownership is required.

Early voting begins August 17th and ends September 1st.


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