Operation Tennessee Waltz
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Operation Tennessee Waltz was a sting operation set up by federal and state law enforcement agents, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). The operation led to the arrest of seven Tennessee state lawmakers and two men identified as "bagmen" in the indictment on the morning of May 26, 2005, on bribery charges. The FBI and TBI followed these arrests with an additional arrest of two county commissioners, one from Hamilton County, and the other a member of the prominent Hooks family of Memphis. Investigators also arrested a former county administrator.
In the May 26 edition[full citation needed] of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, an article appeared about Charles Love, reporting that he owed almost $300,000 in back taxes and that the Internal Revenue Service had placed liens against his home. The article also mentioned E-Cycle in passing, as if it were a real company, possibly at the request of the FBI or TBI, to help confirm E-Cycle's seeming legitimacy.
Timeline of event
- August 21, 2006
- Shelby County Commissioner Michael Hooks Sr. resigns from office and pleads guilty to accepting a $24,000 bribe, announcing, "I entered a plea of guilty simply because I am." He was the second person to plead guilty, in addition to the four previously convicted by trial.
- July 12, 2007
- The last of the accused to remain in office, Senator Ward Crutchfield, seventy-eight years old and Democrat of Chattanooga, pleads guilty four days before his trial was to begin. The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries a possible five-year sentence and $250,000 fine. He admitted to accepting a $3,000 bribe, which his defense attorney characterized as a "gratuity." He had been in the state legislature for 31 years, and his attorney stated he would resign "in due time." Crutchfield's conviction does not affect his $42,000 per year pension.
- July 16, 2007
- Kathryn I. Bowers of Memphis pleads guilty to one count of bribery in exchange for having five extortion charges dropped.
- August 28, 2007
- John Ford was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison to be followed with 2 years of supervised release.
- "Tennessee Waltz: The Dance is Over". Washington, D.C.: Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
- County Official Pleads Guilty in 'Tennessee Waltz' Scandal. Associated Press report August 21, 2006. Accessed July 16, 2007.
- Tenn. Lawmaker Pleads Guilty to Bribery. Associated Press report July 12, 2007. Accessed July 16, 2007. Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
- Tenn. Lawmaker Pleads Guilty to Bribery. Associated Press report July 16, 2007. Accessed July 16, 2007.[dead link]