'Tennessee Waltz' Indictments - Summary and Excerpts


Here are some summary details and excerpts from the astonishing "Tennessee Waltz" indictments (Scene has story and links to indictments). The sting operation involved creation by the FBI of an undercover company operated by federal agents called "E-Cycle," purportedly in the business of salvaging and disposing of outdated electronic equipment. The fake corporation was supposedly headquartered in Atlanta. The operation has been going on for two years, with the earliest contacts between E-Cycle and indicted individuals occurring in mid-2003. There are five counts in the indictment of Sen. John Ford, two related to corruption and three related to intimidation. The first corruption charge alleges that Ford, in connection with a bill in the legislature, "did obtain, by extortion, cash payments from and with the consent of representatives of a company known as E-Cycle Management, Inc., which payments were induced by John Ford under color of his official right as a Tennessee State Senator." The second count says he "did knowingly and corruptly demand...and accept...the sum of $55,000 in cash, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with business transactions of the State of Tennessee." The indictment details conversations between Ford and representatives of E-Cycle, alleged payments to Ford, and actions by Ford on the legislation in question that E-Cycle favored.

Counts 3, 4, and 5 allege that Ford "did knowingly intimidate, threaten, attempt to intimidate, and attempt to threaten an individual," with one of the counts referring to an undercover FBI agent and the others to unnamed individuals. Each of those counts allege a threat to "shoot" the person involved with the "intent to hinder, delay and prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer and a judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a federal offense."

The other four indictments -- of Sen. Ward Crutchfield, Rep. Chris Newton, and Sen. Kathryn Bowers, and the former lawmaker Roscoe Dixon -- are structurally similar to each other in the sense that each connects the one named in the indictment with one of the two indicted non-lawmakers, Charles Love and Barry Myers. Love and Myers are each described as being "in essence a 'bag man' for certain members of the Tennessee General Assembly who could be influenced in sponsoring and voting for certain legislation that would benefit E-Cycle." (Yes, they use the term "bag man" in federal indictments.)

Love is said to have introduced E-Cycle representatives to Ward Crutchfield and Chris Newton, who would "co-sponsor, support, and vote for legislation beneficial to E-Cycle in exchange for illegal payments of money." Myers is alleged to have played that go-between role in the indictments of Bowers and Dixon.

The actual descriptions of defendant actions within the indictments are numerous and varied. With the caveat that any one segment might not be fully in context, here are a few selected paragraphs (verbatim from the indictments) to give a sense of the types of alleged actions that formed the basis for the charges brought.

From Ford's indictment:

On or about November 11, 2004, the defendant John Ford had a telephone conversation with a representative of E-Cycle. When asked if he needed anything, John Ford responded, "Yeah, send me a little money."

On or about November 19, 2004, the defendant John Ford met in Memphis, Tennessee, with a representative of E-Cycle and received $5,000 in cash as further payment for drafting, proposing and pushing in the Tennessee General Assembly the bill that would benefit E-Cycle.

From Bowers' indictment:

On or about June 26, 2003, in Memphis, Tennessee, the defendant Barry Myers had a conversation in which he indicated to an individual that Kathryn Bowers needed to be paid money in order to support legislation.

On or about March 29, 2004, the defendant Barry Myers received the sum of $3,000 from a representative of E-Cycle and passed this money to Kathryn Bowers at Kathryn Bowers’ residence in Memphis, Tennessee.

From Crutchfield's indictment:

On or about October 13, 2004, the defendant Ward Crutchfield, the defendant Charles Love and an E-Cycle representative met in Ward Crutchfield’s office. Ward Crutchfield was told by his secretary “he was mighty nice to use today.” Ward Crutchfield told the E-Cycle representative that “we will do whatever you want us to do.”

On or about February 15, 2005, the defendant Ward Crutchfield met with an E-Cycle representative and was handed two envelopes each containing $1,500.

From Newton's indictment:

On or about September 28, 2004 Charles Love had a conversation with an E-Cycle representative and indicated that he needed $1000 for the defendant Chris Newton.

On or about October 12, 2004, the defendant Charles Love drove to Memphis, Tennessee and met with an E-Cycle representative [who] gave Charles Love an envelope, bearing the initials C.N., containing $1,000 for the defendant Chris Newton.

On or about October 13, 2004, the defendant Charles Love and the defendant Chris Newton met in Cleveland, Tennessee with an E-Cycle representative. At this meeting, Chris Newton already possessed an envelope similar to that described [in the paragraph] above. During the course of this meeting, Chris Newton and the E-Cycle representative discussed the bill which E-Cycle wished Chris Newton to sponsor in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Holy cow. But innocent until proven guilty.

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