Five months after being indicted by a federal grand jury as a result of the "Living the Dream" investigation, County Mayor Mike Foster has been cleared of the charge against him.
U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger has signed the agreed order of dismissal in the case against Foster.
"I am grateful it's over," said Foster in an interview with WJLE Friday afternoon. " I'm very thankful to my attorneys Hal Hardin and Harold Donnelly. They worked very hard. And I am thoroughly appreciative of the people who would come up to me on a daily basis, saying keep your head up high. We know you. We believe in you. We're praying for you. I'm grateful to the people that repeatedly told me they believed in me," said Foster.
Foster's attorney, Hal Hardin, phoned WJLE Friday afternoon to confirm that the indictment against Foster is being dismissed with prejudice, meaning that this particular case can never be brought against Foster again. Foster has also agreed not to sue for any claims he might have had against the government.
"Prosecutors in the case filed a notice with the court stating that they no longer wished to pursue the charge," said Hardin in his statement to WJLE.
"I always felt Mr. Foster was an innocent man and I knew this day would come. I am just sorry it didn't come sooner. I am very happy for him. I know it has been a tough time for him but he has stood tall through it all and it's over now," said Hardin.
In September, 2013 Former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins and former Deputy Director Larry Webb were named in a sixteen count federal grand jury indictment accusing them of conspiring to misuse government funds at the "Living the Dream" complex. The grand jury also indicted Foster, the former Chairman of the UCDD Board of Directors, alleging that he read a statement that he knew was false at the UCDD board's January 19, 2012 meeting to cover up Askins' and Webb's alleged illegal activity.
Foster said he couldn't understand why he was ever indicted in the first place. "This was a federal charge and I was shocked and sickened when I heard this had happened. The charge they had me for was reading a statement handed to me in the middle of a (UCDD) meeting that was on TV. I read it but I clearly said that I don't think this was properly presented, that I don't think we voted on it, and I don't think it is correct, but I remember us talking about it. But then, when everybody else (at the meeting) got to talking about it, four or five spoke up and said "yeah we remember talking about it" and then they voted but I passed. For me (to be accused) of being involved in it was insane to me. I could not believe it," said Foster
The agreed order of dismissal and release, filed in federal court Friday afternoon, February 14 states as follows:
"It appears to the Court from the signatures below of the defendant, the defendant's attorney, and the attorneys for the government that the parties have agreed that the indictment should be dismissed with prejudice."
"The parties and their attorneys further agree that no factual concession or admission concerning any matter in this case is being made by either party but rather the dismissal is based on a mutual desire of the parties and their attorneys to resolve this case without the necessity of further proceedings. The parties and their attorneys further agree that the defendant shall not authorize, file or otherwise pursue any alleged claims he may have against the government for failure to prosecute him, for a claim that he is a "prevailing party", or any other claims he may have pursuant to 18 United States Code, Section 3006A. The parties further agree that the defendant's waiver of his claims is done knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily."
The agreed order has been signed by Foster, his attorney, Hardin and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur and Scarlett Singleton Nokes. Judge Trauger signed the order Tuesday.
The trial date of former UCDD officials Askins and Webb has been reset for June 3 in U.S. District Court in Nashville