Local News Articles

Former DeKalb County Man Charged with Sales Tax Evasion

December 4, 2010
Dwayne Page
Michael G. Cantrell

The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of 54 year old Michael Gene Cantrell on charges of sales tax evasion by filing false and fraudulent documents with the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office.

Cantrell, a former resident of DeKalb County, now resides in Jamestown.

On Nov. 29, 2010, Cantrell was indicted by a DeKalb County Grand Jury on three Class E felony counts of Sales Tax Evasion in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 67-1-1440. The indictment charges that between July 2003 and May 2007, Cantrell submitted false and fraudulent documents to the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office for the purpose of registering two vehicles and a boat. On Dec 3, 2010, Cantrell surrendered to Special Agents at the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office. If convicted, Cantrell could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in the state penitentiary
and fined $3,000 for each of the three Class E felony counts.

“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 Charles Trost. "This investigation underscores the department's ongoing efforts to enforce Tennessee's tax laws."

This case was pursued criminally by the department in cooperation with the District Attorney General Randy York. Commissioner Trost expressed his appreciation for the excellent cooperation the department has enjoyed with General York. Citizens who suspect violations of the Tennessee revenue laws should call the toll-free tax fraud hot line at (800) FRAUDTX (372-8389).

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with
those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 91 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the department collected $10.1 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.9 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2009-2010 fiscal
year. In 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.

Smithville Police Make Arrest in Rash of Automobile Burglaries

December 3, 2010
Dwayne Page
Brian Thomason

The Smithville Police Department has apparently solved a rash of recent car burglaries with the arrest of a local man.

Detective Matt Holmes said Brian Thomason has been charged with seven counts of burglary, one count of felony theft, six counts of misdemeanor theft, and one count of felony vandalism in connection with several car burglaries on Whaley and Cill Street.

According to Detective Holmes, Thomason is believed to have broken into and stolen items from vehicles parked at homes on 420 Whaley Street, 407 Whaley Street, 613 Cill Street, 620 Cill Street, and 701 Cill Street. The break-ins are believed to have occurred during the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 23rd before daylight.

The residents at all these addresses called police to report the break-ins and thefts later that morning after making the discoveries. Some people in the neighborhood also reported seeing a suspicious man on foot walking through the area that day carrying several bags.

Detective Holmes said that on November 23rd at 7:59 a.m. Officer Travis Bryant took a report from Oscar Boyd at 420 Whaley Street who stated that someone had burglarized two vehicles at his residence. Stolen from the automobiles were a laptop computer with a leather case, money bags containing some cash, a set of keys, checkbook, and two large cd cases with multiple cd's.

On November 23rd at 7:30 a.m., Officer Bryant took a report from Paul Cantrell at 407 Whaley Street who stated that his vehicle had been burglarized and that a black bag was stolen. The vehicle was also vandalized with damage to the dash and radio, where an unsuccessful attempt was made to steal the radio.

On November 23rd at 7:45 a.m., Officer Brad Tatrow took a report from David Gash at 613 Cill Street who stated that two vehicles were burglarized at his home and that a Garmin GPS unit was stolen along with multiple Mag flashlights, car chargers, and ten dollars in change.

On November 23rd at 8:00 a.m. Officer Tatrow took a report from Robert Hale at 620 Cill Street who stated that his automobile was burglarized and that a six inch Pakistan knife, book, and a boxcutter were stolen.

Officer Tatrow also took a report at 11:00 a.m. that day from Tim Woodward at 701 Cill Street who stated that his vehicle was burglarized and that a phone charger, a Craftsman wrench, and six dollars in change were stolen.

After an investigation, Detective Holmes said Thomason was identified as a suspect in the case and that he was staying at a rent home on Dry Creek Road, which was supposed to be unoccupied at that time. Police were told by the owner that no one was to be in the residence and he assisted the officers in obtaining access to the home. Thomason and his girlfriend were found there along with all the items reported stolen from the car burglaries on Whaley and Cill Streets, except for the laptop computer.

Detective Holmes said Thomason admitted to committing the burglaries and added that he had thrown the laptop in a nearby pond after dropping and breaking it.

Thomason is under a $150,000 bond and he will be in court on December 16th.

In other city crime news, 24 year old Charlie C Barnes of Cecil Hale Road was arrested on Saturday, November 27th for driving on a suspended license. Officer Scott Davis stopped a vehicle driven by Charlie Barnes for a traffic violation. A computer check of Barnes' license through central dispatch revealed them to be suspended. Bond for Barnes is $1,000 and his court date is January 5th.

36 year old Earnest Paul Barnwell of Poss Street was cited for shoplifting on Sunday, November 28th. Barnwell allegedly took items from Rite Aid Pharmacy without paying for them. K-9 Officer Brad Tatrow issued the citation. Barnwell's court date is December 16th.

42 year old Kimberly Denise Simmons of North 4th Street was cited for shoplifting on Sunday, November 28th by officer Scott Davis. Simmons was observed by Dollar General Store employees placing several items of merchandise in her purse and attempting to leave the store. Her court date is January 6th.

31 year old Lisa Rena Taylor of Poss Street was arrested Sunday, November 28th for simple possession of a schedule II drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving on a revoked license. While investigating a shoplifting complaint against another person, Corporal Bryant was advised that Taylor had been waiting in the parking lot of Rite Aid for the shoplifting suspect. Corporal Bryant later saw her traveling on East Bryant and turn into City Walk Apartments where she got out of her car and ran back to the intersection of South Congress and East Bryant where she could see Officer Tatrow across the street. Corporal Bryant made contact with Taylor and knew from a prior encounter that her drivers license were revoked. Taylor was placed under arrest and transported to her car where K-9 Leo indicated on the vehicle. Drug paraphernalia was found in her jacket inside the car and in the glove compartment was a schedule II drug. Bond for Taylor is $3,500 and her court date is January 6th.

Meanwhile, anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Grand Jury Issues Good Report on Condition of DeKalb County Jail

December 3, 2010
Dwayne Page

The Grand Jury has given the DeKalb County Jail another good report.

After touring the facility Monday, the grand jurors prepared a brief report on their findings. The report states that "We, the members of the Grand Jury have found the DeKalb County Jail to be very clean, organized, well kept, and the facility is well maintained with top- notch security and a system of rewards for good behavior and stout discipline for those who do not cooperate within the system. Overall, the department has done an outstanding job operating within the budget. Prisoners are treated humanely with medical services readily available around the clock."

Bonds were also inspected and found to be in good shape.

Three Aldermen to be Elected in Smithville Municipal Election in June

December 2, 2010

It may seem early to some, but the Smithville Municipal Election is just around the corner.

The election is set for June 21st and Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley says interested candidates can pick up petitions as early as December 17th.

Three aldermen seats will be up for election in June. The seats are currently held by Shawn Jacobs, Aaron Meeks, and W.J. White.

Stanley says the qualifying deadline will be Noon March 17th. The last day to register to vote in the Smithville election will be May 23rd.

Vernon Convicted of Reckless Homicide

December 1, 2010
Dwayne Page
James Vernon (at the time of his arrest)

The man originally charged with first degree murder in a brutal beating of another man on Center Hill Lake last year which resulted in his death, stood trial Tuesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court for second degree murder.

But when the jury, made of up six men and six women, returned from it's deliberations Tuesday night, the verdict was something much less, reckless homicide. A blow to state prosecutors.

As a result, 39 year old James P. Vernon of Green Hill Road, Rock Island, who has been in jail for 509 days, could soon be released. He will be sentenced on January 26th . The range of punishment for reckless homicide is reportedly from two to four years. Judge Leon Burns, Jr. has set a $5,000 bond for Vernon, pending the sentencing hearing.

State prosecutors said Vernon was responsible for the death of 24 year old David Joseph Clark, who was severely beaten during an attack on a houseboat at Center Hill Lake July 7th, 2009. Clark died a week later from his injuries at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

The incident occurred in DeKalb County, only a short distance from Horsehoe Bend Marina, which is in White County.

Vernon, who testified in his own defense, said that he met Clark on the fourth of July, 2009 during an outing on the lake. Two days later, July 6th Vernon said Clark showed up at his boat, just to hang out, after going to see his friends on their boat and finding them asleep. Vernon, who was cooking some fish for himself and a friend, claims he invited Clark inside to join them. But a short time later, Vernon said Clark suddenly left, saying he had to go. Vernon looked around and noticed that his wallet, which he kept on the bar near the dining table, was missing. Thinking that Clark took it, Vernon followed after Clark and confronted him about the wallet, which he said contained $50 in denominations of two- twenty dollar bills and a ten dollar bill. Clark apparently denied taking the wallet, but Vernon had him to produce his (Clark's) wallet, which revealed that Clark had two- twenty dollar bills on him. Vernon did not find his own wallet.

The next day, July 7th, Vernon testified that he and a friend, Steve Killion, who had a small houseboat next to his, went looking for his wallet and found a ten dollar bill in the parking lot (near the marina).

That night, July 7th, Vernon said he showed up at Killion's houseboat, and that Clark later arrived. Witnesses testified that Clark was already at Killion's boat when Vernon got there. Vernon apparently confronted Clark again about the wallet, but Clark told him that "we need to get past this wallet. I want you to be my friend." Vernon said he told Clark that he couldn't be friends with someone who stole from him. While Clark denied taking the wallet, Vernon said Clark admitted to stealing from others in the area, and added that they got what they deserved. Vernon said he took the comment personally, became angry and began punching him after Clark grabbed him. But witnesses, Steve Killion and Tanner Muncey, testified that Clark did nothing to provoke Vernon and that Vernon began hitting Clark, after the two men had shook hands. According to the witnesses, Vernon inflicted three or four blows to Clark, and then continued beating him after he fell to the floor unconscious, even though witnesses tried to restrain Vernon and called for him to stop.

After the attack, Vernon said he left Killion's boat to go get some beer to calm himself. Killion testified that he confronted Vernon about getting some help for Clark. Vernon then returned to Killion's houseboat, picked up Clark, apparently in a fireman's carry, and took him to Clark's car, where he placed him in the passenger seat. Others apparently called for help.

White County EMS came to the scene and transported Clark to the White County Hospital where he was later airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Clark's mother testified that her son never regained consciousness.

Dr. Thomas Deering of Nashville, who conducted the autopsy, testified that Clark died from intra-cranial hemorrhaging due to blunt force injury. Clark also had a fractured jaw.

Vernon said he deeply regretted what he had done. When asked by District Attorney General Randy York if he had said "I'm sorry' to anyone. Vernon replied, "Yes, the Lord."

York, in his closing remarks to the jury, said Vernon committed second degree murder, acting intentionally and knowing that Clark could die, especially when he continued the beating even after Clark had lost consciousness. Assistant D.A. Greg Strong assisted D.A. York in the trial.

District Public Defender David Brady and assistant Allison Rasbury, in their closing remarks, said they while Vernon was wrong in the attack, he did not commit second degree murder in that he could not have known with reasonable certainty that the injuries from the fight would lead to Clark's death.

TDOT Awards $26.9 Million Bid to OCCI, Incorporated on Rehab of Hurricane Bridge

November 30, 2010
Dwayne Page
Jennifer Flynn

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has awarded a bid for the rehabilitation of Hurricane Bridge.

Jennifer Flynn, Regional Community Relations Officer with TDOT in Region II, told WJLE Tuesday that OCCI Incorporated of Fulton, Missouri was the low bidder on the project with a bid of $26.9 million. Two other companies had also submitted bids, Bell & Associates of Brentwood at $33.7 million and Kay & Kay Contracting of London, Kentucky at $33.8 million.

"Bids were opened on the project October 29th and the low bidder was OCCI, Incorporated of Fulton, Missouri with a bid of $26.9 million. The contract was officially awarded to the apparent low bidder last week.

Flynn said it's not yet known when construction will begin but OCCI has until October 31st, 2013 to complete the project. "It will take about a month to get all the paper work done. As soon as that happens, then the contractor will hold the pre-construction conference where representatives from the contractor's office and TDOT representatives from the construction field office, the regional construction office, and any utilities that might be involved on the project, will meet at a pre-construction conference and determine how the work is going to be done and how they will approach the job. As soon as that is done, they can get to work on the project. The completion date for this project is on or before October 31st, 2010. "

"This project is being funded through TDOT's Better Bridges (bonding) Program and through this program TDOT will replace, repair, or rehabilitate 200 state owned structurally deficient bridges in Tennessee by 2013. Hurricane Bridge is part of this program."

County Mayor Mike Foster said this is great news for DeKalb County and once construction begins, the county will no longer provide flaggers to control traffic across the bridge, since the state or contractor will be taking over that responsibilty.

Head-On Crash Monday Night Results in Fatality

November 29, 2010
Dwayne Page

A 63 year old Dowelltown woman has died from injuries she received in a head-on crash Monday night on West Broad Street near DeKalb County High School.

Dead is Wanda K. Harrison.

Lieutenant Randy Maynard of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Harrison was in a 2009 Honda SUV traveling west when her vehicle veered left into a 1994 Chevy pick-up, driven by 55 year old Mary Jo Britt of Dowelltown.

According to Lieutenant Maynard, Britt was east on Highway 70 preparing to make a left turn into the high school parking lot. As she was starting to get into the turning lane, she saw the Honda SUV coming toward her. Britt steered to the right, back into the eastbound lane trying to avoid a collision but the Honda SUV hit her head-on.

Central dispatch received the call at 4:58 p.m.

Harrison was airlifted from the high school/middle school parking lot by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt hospital, where she died. Britt was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Family members of Ms. Harrison claim she suffered from a medical condition, and Lieutenant Maynard said that may have contributed to the accident.

In addition to the THP, DeKalb EMS, and Life Force, members of the Smithville Police and Fire Departments, and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were also on the scene.

Hendrixson Among More than 50 Indicted by Grand Jury Monday

November 29, 2010
Dwayne Page
Zachary Ross Hendrixson

A 24 year old man, who allegedly used somebody else's 2006 Mastercraft X45 ski boat several times over the summer without the owner's permission to entertain friends on the lake, was indicted Monday by the Grand Jury with vandalism over $10,000 and joyriding.

Zachary Ross Hendrixson was also indicted in a separate case, charging him with burglary and theft over $1,000. He will be arraigned in criminal court on the charges Monday, December 13th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Hendrixson was arrested on Monday, July 19th after the owner of the boat took warrants against him. The boat, which was docked at the time at Hurricane Marina, apparently received some damage to the interior and exterior while Hendrixson was using it. The boat is valued at approximately $100,000.

According to Sheriff Ray, Hendrixson took the boat out on the lake several times. " He has been going down there since Memorial Day, taking people out on that boat, falsely claiming it belonged to his family. He even published pictures of the outings on his Face Book account."

When the owner discovered that Hendrixson had been using the boat, he had him charged in the case.

After a further investigation, Sheriff Ray said Hendrixson was also charged with theft of property over $1,000 for allegedly taking items off another boat."We started an investigation and found that he had stolen a surf board, a wake board, and life jackets from a boat at Cove Hollow Marina, valued at $1,180."

Hendrixson is also accused of committing a theft at a residence on Mullican Drive, where tools and a battery charger were taken, valued at $250. Sheriff Ray said those items were later recovered in Mount Juliet.

Hendrixson is one of more than fifty people who were indicted by the Grand Jury Monday. Three people have been named in sealed indictments but their names cannot be disclosed until they are arrested. All those indicted Monday will be arraigned in criminal court on Monday, December 13th at 9:00 a.m.

In addition to Hendrixson, those indicted and their charges are as follows:

Mark Anthony Violet- theft over $1,000 (2 counts)

Lydia R. Judkins- introduction of contraband into a penal institution

Brandon Gurley- domestic assault

Brandon Gurley & Jamie L. Hodges-manufacture of methamphetamine

Robert "Bobby" Morris Turner- Rape

Ellissa S. Howard- DUI

Corey Wade Thomas- possession of a schedule IV controlled substance

Christopher J. Garrett- introduction of contraband into a penal institution

Justin C. Hale- theft over $10,000 and vandalism over $1,000

Michael E. Brown- driving on a revoked license (9th offense)

Jared M. Staggs-theft over $10,000 and auto burglary (2 counts); and DUI

Brian R. Gadbois- aggravated kidnaping and domestic assault

Barry A. Gibbs- theft over $10,000, evading arrest, and reckless endangerment

Nena B. Sprague- driving on a suspended license

William A. Cantrell- driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Chasity J. Phillips- possession of a schedule III controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia

Kenny Ray Herman- driving under the influence

Mary E. Tanner- initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine

Barry Cecil Ford- possession of a schedule III controlled substance, possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and driving on a revoked license

James Clarence Adamson- aggravated assault, violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender order, driving on a revoked license, and leaving the scene of an accident

William B. Seals, Jr.- driving under the influence (2nd offense)

Johnny A. Murphy, Jr.- possession of a schedule III controlled substance

Michael S. Saylors- possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale and possession of paraphernalia

Jonathan D. Goff- assault

John A. Judkins, Sr.- assault and evading arrest

Darnell F. Gurley- prescription fraud

Grady L. Murphy- theft over $500

Tracey L. Guthrie- driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law

David W. Gains- promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine (2 charges)

Melisha R. Cantrell- possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, and possession of paraphernalia

Billy R. Huddleston- possession of a schedule III controlled substance and DUI (2nd offense)

Brittney D. Barnes- possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and resisting arrest

Mark W. Green- promotion of the manufacture of meth, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, and possession of paraphernalia

Bradley Shane Redmon- promoting the manufacture of meth

Felicia Ann Walz- driving on a suspended license

Aaron D. Ponder- theft over $1,000; theft under $500; and driving on a suspended license

Aubrey Lee Kilgore- driving under the influence

Tracy A. Thomason- auto burglary and theft under $500

Kenny W. Dyal, Jr.- aggravated burglary (8 charges), theft over $1,000 (5 charges), theft over $500, theft under $500

David Dixon- aggravated assault

Johnny L. Devault- driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law

Nieka D. Barrett- theft under $500

Gwynn G. Prater- theft under $500

Carlos L. Godsey- theft over $1,000

Edward L. Judkins, Jr. & Marie E. Biddle- aggravated burglary, theft over $500, vandalism under $500

Tony J. Reeder- driving under the influence (3rd offense) and violation of the implied consent law

Man Charged with Statutory Rape

November 29, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mark Fish, Jr.
Nathan Joseph Trower

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested a Smithville man for statutory rape.

24 year old Mark Fish, Jr. of Holmes Creek Road is charged with statutory rape. He is under a $50,000 bond and his court date is December 16th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on or about October 12th while at a residence on Blue Springs Road, Fish allegedly unlawfully had sex with a 15 year old female without her consent. Sexual penetration was made by force. The female stated that she was asleep at the time of the incident and when she awoke, she told him to stop, but he did not.

Meanwhile, 28 year old Nathan Joseph Trower of Baxter is charged under an April 16th, 2007 sealed indictment with sale and delivery of a schedule III controlled substance. He is under a $10,000 bond and he will be in court on December 13th. Trower has been out of state in another correctional institute and was only recently arrested.

Alexandria Parade Kicks off Christmas Season in DeKalb County

November 28, 2010
Dwayne Page
Santa Arrives in Alexandria
West Main Baptist Church Wins Float Competition

An enthusiastic crowd gathered downtown Alexandria Sunday afternoon for the annual Christmas parade to help kick off the holiday season.

Hundreds turned out to experience the sights and sounds of this annual event and to have a chance at winning some prizes. The honorary Grand Marshal of the parade was Caleb Brown, the young child who was seriously injured after being struck by a large rock on an outing with his family several weeks ago at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Caleb remains hospitalized so family and friends represented him in the Parade.

Click here to see more

The West Main Baptist Church of Alexandria won first place in the float competition. Jesus Loves You Tabernacle took second place and the Malone's Chapel Baptist Church received third place.

Ronald and Cathy Clayton were winners of the best vintage automobile category for their 1969 Camaro Z-28. Doyle Slager took second place for his 1960 Chevy Impala and Brad Driver received third place for his 1969 Camaro.

In the tractor category, Chris Hale won with his 1952 John Deere MT. Steven Cook received second place for his 1942 Farmall B and Travis Agee took third place for his 1936 John Deere-A.

The parade featured many other vintage cars and trucks, tractors, church floats, horseback riders, the DCHS band, Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins, Sheriff Patrick Ray, members of the Alexandria city and county fire departments, among others including Santa and Mrs. Claus. Veterans, who rode in the parade, were transported by a trolley borrowed from the town of Watertown.

Deb McCoy and Denise Barrett, organizers of the parade, wish to thank everyone for their participation and attendance and the sponsors for their support.


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