Criminal Charges May be Sought Against Jennings

August 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Criminal charges may be sought against former Smithville Police Lieutenant Richard Jennings.

Police Chief Tom Stufano, in a brief news release, says "Smithville Police Detectives met with the Middle Tennessee District Attorney's Office Tuesday to file Theft and Official Misconduct charges in the upcoming December Grand Jury scheduled in December against former Smithville Police Officer Richard Jennings. Smithville Police have advised that the City has now turned the case over to the District Attorney's Office and the US Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for prosecution."

Jennings was terminated from the Smithville Police Department last week for alleged violations of police department policies and procedures as well as possible violations of state and federal law. He is accused of removing weapons, inventory files, ammunition, and other items from the police department, some of which were allegedly found in his personal possession.

The attorney for Jennings, Adam Parrish of Lebanon, in a telephone conversation with WJLE last Friday afternoon, said " We think the allegations against Mr. Jennings are preposterous. They are nothing more than an attempt to discredit and humiliate him, simply because Mr. Jennings is privy to information that is particularly damaging to Chief (Tom) Stufano and the department. It's our belief he will be completely vindicated before the five man board."

Jennings was placed on suspension with pay pending termination on Friday, August 3rd, following an internal police department investigation.

Last Thursday afternoon, the case against Jennings was presented to the city's discipline hearing authority, which is made up of Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Cecil Burger, and City Recorder Burnace Vandergriff. After hearing the evidence, the vote was 3 to 0 to terminate Jennings.

Jennings is appealing his termination to the entire board of Mayor and Aldermen, which has the final say on the issue. The hearing is set for Monday night during the city council meeting at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

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