Local News Articles

Attorney Calls Allegations Against Richard Jennings "Preposterous"

August 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Lebanon attorney Adam Parrish predicts that former Smithville Police Lieutenant Richard Jennings, who was fired on Thursday, will soon be vindicated and he calls the allegations against his client "preposterous"

Jennings was terminated from the Smithville Police Department 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.

Parrish, in a telephone conversation with WJLE 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.

On 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.

Neither Jennings nor his attorney were present for Thursday's hearing. Jennings was aware of the hearing but Parrish notified city attorney John Pryor that Jennings was waiving his right to appear before the three member discipline board and would appeal his case to the entire board of mayor and aldermen, which has the final say, at the next meeting on Monday, August 20th at 7:00 p.m.

Board of Education Forced to Make Cuts in Proposed New School Budget

August 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night adopted a revised school budget for the 2007-2008 this fiscal year, making $113,274 in cuts from the previous proposed budget passed on June 26th and submitted to the county budget committee for approval.

The proposed cuts will be made in the categories of legal services- $15,000, liability insurance- $18,694, workman's compensation insurance- $45,280, natural gas- $16,800, building and contents insurance- $10,000, diesel fuel- $5,000, and vehicle and equipment insurance- $2,500.

Funds for proposed pay raises for school system employees and new positions will not be cut.

The spending plan, with expenditures totaling $17-million ,059-thousand, 026 dollars, is based on the proposed local property tax rate for schools of 57 cents per $100 of assessed value, a cut of 16 cents from last year. However, the county plans to give back to schools an amount equivalent to 16 cents from the local option sales tax fund (sinking fund).

Three members of the seven member school board were absent Thursday night which meant all four members present had to vote unanimously to adopt the amended budget. However the vote was only 3 to 1 for passage. Board members Johnny Lattimore, Joan Draper, and Kenny Rhody voted in favor while board member Charles Robinson voted no.

Realizing that the vote failed, Chairman Lattimore called for a recess. After the meeting was recalled to order, Robinson reluctantly changed his mind and decided to vote for passage of the amended budget. In a prepared statement, Robinson expressed his concern that the county commission is not willing to give schools more money. "The original budget proposed called for no tax increase using figures provided by the county mayor. Every year, when we as a board come to this process, we must look at the future of education. Far too many times, we take steps backwards or march in place. We must march forward. I am realistic. I know we can't afford a Cadillac school system, but we should be able to have a loaded Ford. The county commission cut property taxes 20 cents and 16 cents (of the cut) is from education. Mr Willoughby has stated that these proposed cuts will not affect students."

The Board of Education previously requested in local taxes $3-million 834-thousand 900 dollars, however the county commission will only agree to fund in local taxes $3-million 694-thousand, 357 dollars for schools, a difference of $140,543 dollars. However, the school board has added back $27,269 from State Basic Education Program funds to keep the actual budget cuts at $113,274.

Total revenues for schools comes to $16-million 405-thousand 226 dollars versus total expenditures of $17-million 059-thousand 026 dollars. To make the budget balance, the school board plans to appropriate $653,800 of the Basic Education Program Reserves

The budget includes a state salary increase for certified personnel of 3%; an increase for teachers based on their years of service as per state scale; an increase for those who have earned a degree advancement as per scale; and a local increase in the teacher salary as per scale. Teachers with six to ten years of service would get a local increase for the year of $150. Those with 11-15 years would get a local raise of $200. Teachers with 16-20 years can expect a $250 raise. Those with 21-25 years would get an increase of $300 and teachers with 26 years of service or more would get a local pay raise of $400. Elementary and Secondary Principals, Assistant Principals, and Supervisors would not get a local pay raise this year.

The budget includes a local 3% pay raise for support staff as well as a local step increase as per scale. One lead custodian per school would receive a 25 cent per hour increase and one lead maintenance worker would be paid based on the mechanics pay scale, giving him a pay raise. Support staff would be allowed to use two sick leave days per school year as personal days if needed. However, they would receive no additional days.

Golf and Tennis Coach positions at DCHS would receive an additional $1,000 in supplement pay.

Pay scales would be rounded, as presented.

Social Security and Medicare percentage rates will remain the same; the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System retirement percentage for certified staff will increase to 6.24%, with no increase in the retirement percentage for support staff.

Medical insurance costs are budgeted to increase by 10% and the cost to update the school web site would be $1,000.

The budget includes $80,000 for two additional teaching positions at DCHS for the freshman academy; $80,000 for two extra teaching positions if needed; $40,000 for one teaching position needed at Smithville Elementary School; $80,000 for two teaching positions needed at Northside Elementary School; and $20,000 to increase a half time English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching position to a full time position.

Under the special education program, the budget includes $40,000 for one additional teaching position at DCHS; one vision position retained in the budget; one speech language position retained in the budget; and additional costs have been included for anticipated Leave of Absences and possible degree advancements.

The budget includes $20,000 for one county wide Attendance Clerical position and an increase in benefits for a support staff position.

The spending plan includes a Coordinated School Health Grant of $90,000 for a coordinator, a clerical position, along with benefits and supplies.

An increase has been figured into the budget for increased utility costs, supplies, fuel, etc.

The amended budget will be presented to the county budget committee for approval. The county commission is scheduled to adopt the new budgets and set the property tax rate on Monday, August 20th at 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel to the board Thursday night.

Those employed for the 2007-2008 school year since last month include:

Shelly Painter, Guidance Counselor at DCHS. She replaces David Gash who transferred to an Assistant Principal position at DCHS; Amelia Phillips, cafeteria worker at Smithville Elementary School; Wendy Green, Educational Assistant; Rebecca Satterfield, Educational Assistant in Special Education at DCHS; Lynn Pichey, substitute teacher and or substitute cafeteria worker; Barbara Johnson, teacher at DeKalb Middle School in Special Education. She replaces Joe Ruch who resigned; Melissa Thurman, Educational Assistant in Special Education at DeKalb Middle School. She replaces Dee Dee Miller who resigned; Heather Cornelius, Educational Assistant at Northside Elementary School; Jennifer Agee, Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary School. She replaces Cathy Beltz who resigned; Dianne Page, Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School; Trent Colwell, Special Education Assistant at Northside Elementary School; Clay Dickerson, Math teacher at DCHS; Eric Helton, Math teacher at DCHS; Lori Page, English teacher at DCHS; Daniel Seber, Special Education teacher at DCHS; Renee Beaty, teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Michael Crockett, teacher at Northside Elementary School; Jenny Stephenson, teacher at DeKalb Middle School 6th grade Social Studies, Nathan Thomason, football assistant; Linda Vickers, cafeteria worker at DeKalb West School; Amy Fletcher, English as a Second Language (ESL) Educational Assistant; Kenderly Cripps, Educational Assistant at DCHS; Lillian Purnell, Teacher of Pre-School at Smithville Elementary School (a new position-newly funded in the Pre-K program); Dee Anna Persinger, School Health Coordinator (a new position-newly funded by a state grant); and Samuel Vantrease, DeKalb Middle School Football Assistant.

Transfers are as follows:

Annie Walker, Educational Assistant, transferred to the Regular Pre-School Program at Smithville Elementary School; Layra Crook, Teacher, transferred to Smithville Elementary School Pre-School; Penny Bilyeu, Teacher, transferred from DCHS to the Special Education Pre-School at Smithville Elementary School; Carrie Lee, Teacher, transferred from Special Education Pre-School to a regular teaching position at Smithville Elementary School; Beth Pafford, Teacher, transferred to a regular first grade position; Misty Franklin, Teacher, transferred to Kindergarten. She replaces Lynda Luna who retired; and Amy Young, Teacher, transferred to Pre-School at DeKalb West School.

Resignations:

Dorothy Fay Adkins, custodian at Northside Elementary School

Leave of Absence, as requested, Kimberly Crook, 4th grade teacher at DeKalb West School.

Richard Jennings Fired from Police Department- Plans Appeal to the City Council

August 13, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Lieutenant and former Chief Richard Jennings has been fired from the Smithville Police Department 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.

Since last Friday, August 3rd, Jennings has been on suspension with pay pending termination, following an internal police department investigation, and Thursday afternoon, the case against him 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.

Neither Jennings nor his attorney were present for Thursday's hearing. Jennings was aware of the hearing but his attorney, Adam Parrish of Lebanon, notified city attorney John Pryor that Jennings was waiving his right to appear before the three member discipline board and would appeal his case to the entire board of mayor and aldermen, which has the final say, at the next meeting on Monday, August 20th at 7:00 p.m.

WJLE was unable to reach Jennings Thursday afternoon, but he returned our calls Thursday night. Jennings would not make any comment about the allegations against him or his termination and he referred all questions to his attorney. Mr. Parrish was in court Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

The statement of violations (allegations) against Jennings are as follows:

Violation of the Smithville Police Department Policies and Procedures Section 4- 803 (2)- Failure to take proper care of city equipment, or theft of city property.

(1). The removal of (1) AR-15 machine gun and (3) concussion hand grenades and a 14 inch tactical shotgun from the department armory and found in (Jennings) personal possession (personal vehicle, personal residence).

(2) Smithville Police Department Official Inventory files, inclusive of dates April 20th, 2007- July 29th, 2007.

(3). Removal and personal possession of miscellaneous items depicted on Smithville Police Department Evidence Receipts 3044-3051 to include: (905) rounds of .223 ammunition, (97) shotgun rounds (various calibers), H&K parts, tools and (1) machine gun streamlight laser/flashlight from the Smithville Police Department.

Violation of the Smithville Police Department Policies and Procedures Section 4-803 (11)-Intentional deviation from established work procedures without authorization from the Supervisor.

(1) Did take numerous items from the Police Department without authorization (all items listed above)

(2) Assigned to maintain logistical support of department's equipment inventory and did not maintain inventory control logs for departmental inspection.

To be filed:

Violation of TCA (state law)- Possession of an unauthorized machine gun and explosives.

(1) Lieutenant Jennings was acting out of the scope of his assigned duties and employment by removing a city owned federally registered machine gun from city property without authorization, to his personal possession.

(2). Lieutenant Jennings was acting out of the scope of his assigned duties and employment by removing (3) concussion hand grenades from the police department armory and keeping them at his personal residence without authorization.

Violation of TCA (state law)- Theft of Property.

(1.) Lieutenant Jennings did take without permission of the owner (City of Smithville):

(1) AR-15 machine gun and (3) concussion hand grenades, and Remington Tactical Shotgun.

(2) (905) rounds of .223 ammunition, (97) shotgun rounds, (10) AR-15 clips, and miscellaneous tools were taken from the police department without permission. Items were later turned over by Lieutenant Jennings with a receipt being signed by Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Evidence Custodian.

(3) Lieutenant Jennings did remove a Tactical Police Radio from the police department without authorization.

(4) Lieutenant Jennings did remove Smithville Police Department Official Inventory Files, inclusive of dates April 20th, 2007- July 29th, 2007.

In accordance with TCA (state law), the officer must be notified of the charges and sanctions and given an opportunity to respond with counsel.

Before any dismissal, demotion, suspension without pay or transfer for punitive reasons, the officer shall be notified in writing of all charges, the basis therefore, and the action which may be taken.

The police officer shall be given an opportunity, within a reasonable time limit after the date of the written notice provided, to respond orally and in writing to the charges. The time limit shall be determined by the agency, but in no event shall it be less than (5) calendar days unless agreed to by the police officer.

Two Arrested in January Robbery of Liberty State Bank

August 13, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two people have been arrested for the January robbery of Liberty State Bank in Liberty.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 32 year old Vasco (Trey) Landrum and his wife 27 year old Angel Landrum of Possum Hollow Road, Dowelltown were arrested Wednesday night and charged with robbery. Bond for each is $100,000 and they will appear in General Sessions Court on the charges August 16th. The Landrum's are also facing federal charges.

Seven months ago, on Thursday, January 11th, two people pulled off a noon time robbery at the Liberty office of Liberty State Bank taking several thousands of dollars in cash and checks before making their getaway.

Sheriff Ray says the robbers, a male and a female, entered the bank around 12:45 p.m.

Pictures from the bank's surveillance cameras revealed that the female was wearing coveralls and a paintball mask that covered her head. The male was wearing coveralls and a hoodie with a sheet covering part of his face.. He was also wearing a dark colored back pack with an orange colored letter "T" on it.

Sheriff Ray says the female passed to a bank employee a note which stated that this was a robbery while the male then went behind the counter and helped himself to the money from a cash drawer.

The two then left the bank then drove to their home, where they burned the clothes they wore during the robbery as well as the checks they had stolen and some of the money that been ripped or torn, fearing that it would be traceable.

Neither of the bank robbers produced a weapon during the hold up and none of the bank employees were injured.

Sheriff Ray says the Landrum's have given statements implicating themselves in the robbery.

Meanwhile, in a separate investigation, 31 year old Steven Anderson of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville is charged with statutory rape.

He was arrested Wednesday night, accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17 year old female since she was age sixteen.

His bond is set at $100,000 and he will be in General Sessions Court on the charge August 16th.

Grand Jury Issues Brief Report on County Jail

August 9, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Members of the Grand Jury toured the DeKalb County Jail this week and issued a brief report.

The report, signed by all members of the Grand Jury, states that " As a body, we, the grand jury, feel as though that the DeKalb County Jail was found to meet the standards set forth by the state, as well as provided adequate treatment for sick or injured inmates, and they ensure the safety and comfort of all inmates."

2nd Annual Education Celebration A Success

August 9, 2007

The 2nd Annual Education Celebration held Monday night in downtown Smithville was a huge success. A large crowd of students and parents came out to receive free school supplies and meet the faculty and staff of their school. All five DeKalb County schools were represented by faculty and each school’s PTO had a booth providing parents information on how they could be part of their schools PTO. There were many other clubs and organizations on hand giving out supplies and information as well.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby was part of the opening ceremony along with State of Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Susan Cooper. Ms. Cooper and her staff provided a booth called “GetFitTN” which gave away sun block kits, pedometers and information on living a healthy lifestyle.

All students received school supplies provided by area churches and businesses, hotdogs, watermelon, Italian ice and many other items. The DCHS Fighting Tiger Band, DMS cheerleaders, DCHS cheerleaders, and the DeKalb West cheerleaders provided entertainment for the evening.

The Education Celebration began in 2006 as part of the First Day of School America campaign, which is a national program that encourages a partnership between families and schools. This year’s Education Celebration Committee would like to thank all sponsors, vendors and public officials that made this year’s event a success.

More than 60 Indicted by Grand Jury

August 7, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

More than 60 people were indicted by the August term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury this week including four named in sealed indictments.

All those indicted will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on August 20th at 9:00 a.m.

Defendants and their charges are as follows:

Bobbie Lisa Andrews- Driving under the Influence, Violation of the implied consent law, and public intoxication.

Troy E. Bain- Simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance and possession of a prohibited weapon

Terry R. Barnes- Contributing to the unruly behavior of a minor

Gary Gilmore Britt and Sammy Gene Taylor- Possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery, possession of paraphernalia, and simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance.

James David Cargill- Theft over $1,000

Kathyerine Michelle Carr- Sale of a counterfeit schedule II controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia.

Terry Lynn Cummings- Driving under the influence (6th offense), driving while revoked (5th offense), and violation of the implied consent law

Alton David Estes- Burglary, theft under $500 (3 counts), and vandalism under $500 (2 counts)

Amy L. Estes- Possession of a schedule II controlled substance (Cocaine over .5 grams) for sale and delivery, possession of paraphernalia, simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Barry Cecil Ford- Driving while revoked (4th offense)

Barry A. Gibbs- Theft over $10,000, joyriding, and driving while revoked

Victor Miguel Godinez- Driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law

Christopher Adam Hale- Aggravated burglary (2 counts), burglary, theft over $500 (3 counts), and theft over $1,000 (2 counts)

Halton Wayne Hicks- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance, evading, and driving while suspended (2nd offense)

Aimee D. Jobe- Attempted burglary of an auto, simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, simple possession of a schedule V controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and disorderly conduct.

Chad Everette Knowles- Violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender order, evading arrest, driving while revoked (6th offense), possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery, simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and possession of a weapon for the purpose of going armed.

Rhonda Gail Lucci- Driving under the influence by allowing and public intoxication

William Paul McGee- Reckless endangerment with a motor vehicle and evading arrest

Michael David Mason, Jr.- Possession of a schedule III controlled substance for sale and delivery

Howard Robert Mayo, Jr. and Alton David Estes- Theft under $500 and vandalism under $500.

Lonnie S. Miller- Theft over $1,000

Lonnie Shawn Miller- Theft over $1,000

Johnnie L. Mitchell- Burglary and theft over $500

Treva J. Murphy- Driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, and driving while revoked

David H. Pack- Driving while suspended (3 separate charges)

Darren Keith Rhea- Driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law

Efrin Maldonado Rios- Driving while revoked, driving under the influence (2nd offense), DUI per se, and driving while revoked

Derrick H. Stafford, Ashley L. Hix, Steven W. Goolsby, and Jennifer J. Brazle- Theft over $1,000, burglary (5 counts), theft over $500 (2 counts), and theft under $500 (2 counts)

William D. Sweeney- Driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, and violation of the open container law

Charles E. West- Violation of the sexual offender registration and monitoring act

Auston C. Wood- Driving without a license, violation of the registration law, and violation of the financial responsibility law

Aron D. Ponder- Driving under the influence (3rd offense)

Danny Ray Murphy- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance and possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery

Christopher Neal Barnes- Driving under the influence (5th offense), driving while revoked (4th offense), violation of the implied consent law, violation of the registration law, violation of the financial responsibility law, failing to obey a traffic control device, and violation of the open container law

Brandon Michael Gray- Driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law

Thomas Jacob Sims- Driving while suspended

Ernest E. Hill, IV- Evading arrest

Michael O. Bly- Forgery (six counts) and passing a forged instrument (6 counts)

Jason Allen- Sale and delivery of over half an ounce of a schedule VI controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance

David Matthew Condon- Theft over $1,000 and vandalism over $1,000

Wilburn Estes- Possession of a schedule III controlled substance for sale and delivery and possession of a schedule IV controlled substance for sale and delivery

Ronald Jacobsen- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of a schedule III controlled substance for sale and delivery, possession of paraphernalia, and simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance.

Shane Colin Orlando- False imprisonment and domestic assault

Troy L. Perkins- Possession of a schedule IV controlled substance for sale and delivery, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance for sale and delivery, possession of paraphernalia, and possession of untaxed alcohol.

Joe A. Young- False report

Pablo Gonzales-Rosales- No drivers license, violation of the seat belt law, and violation of the financial responsibility law

Christopher D. Hendrixson- Driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, and possession of paraphernalia

David Smoot Judkins- Theft over $500

Larry E. Lattimore- Criminal trespassing

Amanda M. Riley- Possession of paraphernalia

Robin L. Lawson- Sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance and possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery

Celina Rena Tate- Driving under the influence (3rd offense), violation of the implied consent law, simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and disorderly conduct

Jerry Leonard Rackley- Driving while revoked (4th offense)

Raymond L. Knox, Jr. and William Joseph Givens- Assault x 2

DCHS Listed as "High Priority" School In State's Annual Progress Report

August 7, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Education released its annual progress report this week listing which Tennessee schools and school systems met performance standards for the 2006-07 school year. In accordance with No Child Left Behind, the DeKalb County School System is listed as "Good Standing" as it met necessary benchmarks for the 2006-2007 school year.

According to Supervisor of Instruction Dr. Carol Hendrix, "DeKalb West School, Northside Elementary and Smithville Elementary are all listed as "Good Standing" as they met all No Child Left Behind benchmarks for the 2006-2007 school year in 37 categories. DeKalb Middle School met all benchmarks for the 2006-2007 school year except for the category of "Students with Disabilities".

"DeKalb County High School met all No Child Left Behind benchmarks in academic areas during the 2006-2007 school year but failed to meet the additional indicator graduation rate. DeKalb County High School is listed as a "High Priority" school as a result of not making the benchmark graduation rate for the 2006-2007 school year."

"DeKalb County High School is among 72 other high schools across the state that did not meet all necessary benchmarks according to No Child Left Behind regulations. DeKalb County High School is listed as "School Improvement 2" indicating that DCHS did not improve its graduation rate two years consecutively. DeKalb County, through the appeals process, met the high school graduation rate for the 2005-2006 school year but remains on the list of schools needing improvement as a result of the 2006-2007 graduation rate."

Tennessee reports which schools have made ‘adequate yearly progress' (AYP) toward the goal of 100 percent of students being proficient in reading and math and a 90 percent graduation rate by 2014.

"We need to not lose sight of the fact that behind the test results are real students who rely on these schools for a quality education," Education Commissioner Lana Seivers said. "The nature of Tennessee's accountability system is to analyze the data to identify areas of need and provide customized resources to boost student achievement. The intent of everyone involved is to make the changes necessary to deliver Tennessee students the education they deserve."

Among Tennessee's newest school improvement efforts is the Tennessee Diploma Project, launched in January in affiliation with the America Diploma Project, to strengthen the high school curriculum. This initiative encourages all high school students to complete a common curriculum designed to prepare students for the demands of the workplace and higher education. The state is also realigning all K-12 standards to improve achievement and better prepare students for post-secondary opportunities.

Schools and districts must meet performance standards in 37 categories at each grade span to be deemed in good standing. Schools or districts that fall below the same standard for two or more consecutive years are identified as high priority, and must meet that performance standard for two years in order to return to good standing.

Taylor Gets Eleven Year Prison Sentence For Aggravated Sexual Battery

August 7, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Judge Leon Burns, Jr. handed down sentences to several people in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday.

60 year old Ceylon Taylor entered a best interest plea to a charge of aggravated sexual battery and was sentenced to 11 years to serve in prison. He must abide by all sex offender requirements. He was given jail credit of seventeen months.

21 year old Johnnie L.Mitchell pleaded guilty to statutory rape and was sentenced to two years to serve. He must perform 100 hours of community service work . He will not be on the sexual offender registry, under terms of his plea agreement. Mitchell's case will run concurrently with a theft conviction for which he is facing three years in Putnam County.

19 year old Homer Anthony Petty, II, charged with burglary other than a habitation and theft over $1,000, was granted supervised judicial diversion probation for a period of two years. The cases are to run concurrently. He must perform 100 hours of community service work and pay $2,575 restitution to Young's Plant Farm.

34 year old Arthur Dawson pleaded guilty to sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (Hydromorphine), sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (cocaine), and sale of a schedule II controlled substance over .5 grams of cocaine. The sentences are to run concurrently. He received an eight year sentence, split confinement, with one year to serve and was fined a total of $2,000. He must make restitution of $200 to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and was given jail credit of eight months.

44 year old Berna D. Barnes pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule IV controlled substance for sale and delivery. She received a three year sentence, all suspended, and she was fined $2,000 but the fine was waived.

20 year old Joshua L. Batey, charged with sale of a schedule VI controlled substance over half an ounce, was granted judicial diversion probation for a period of two years. He must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment, make restitution of $175 to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, and pay a $2,000 fine. Batey may seek employment after two years of successful probation.

24 year old Christopher Martin, charged with sale of a schedule II controlled substance, was granted judicial diversion for a period of three years. He must perform 100 hours of community service work, make restitution of $20 to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, and pay a $2,000 fine.

25 year old Daniel Edward Agee pleaded guilty to driving under the influence (1st offense). He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, suspended to 48 hours incarceration in the DeKalb County Jail with the balance on PSI supervised probation. Agee was fined $360 and he must attend DUI school.

40 year old Patricia Lynn Durham, charged with sale of a schedule III controlled substance, was granted pre-trial diversion probation for a period of two years under a memorandum of understanding. She must pay $60 restitution to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

Many Community Supporters Rally Around Chief Stufano- Aldermen Fail to Override Mayoral Veto

August 6, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Many community supporters of Smithville Police Chief Tom Stufano rallied to his defense during Monday night's meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen

The city board also failed to override a mayoral veto of the council's decision three weeks ago to place Chief Stufano on administrative leave with pay.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson, at the very beginning of the meeting Monday night, called for a vote on the override. A "yes" vote was for the veto to be upheld. A "no" vote was for the veto to be overridden. Aldermen Willie Thomas and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. voted "no" and Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger voted "yes". Alderman Tonya Sullivan "passed" saying "I had several concerns. I've worked with Mr (John) Pryor (city attorney) to try to come to some conclusion on that. I'm still a little undecided so I'm going to pass. I still have some concerns."

On Monday, July 16th, the Smithville Aldermen, on a 3 to 1 vote, decided to place Chief Stufano on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct lodged against him by Roy Ray.

Ray has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Chief Stufano, the Smithville Police Department, and the City of Smithville claiming he suffered injuries and that his civil and constitutional rights were violated during a misdemeanor traffic stop in February.

In a letter to City Attorney Pryor dated Wednesday, July 18th , Mayor Hendrixson gave notice that he was casting a veto to block the suspension of Chief Stufano. In it he wrote " I believe the action taken by this Board could be potential exposure to future litigation and I think any action of administrative leave for Chief Stufano is premature."

The aldermen were also made aware of the Mayor's veto.

Meanwhile, in a letter to city attorney Pryor, District Attorney General Pro Tempore Anthony (Tony) Craighead wrote last week that "The District Attorney's Office will not be requesting a TBI investigation" into the Stufano/Ray matter.

Near the end of the city board meeting Monday night, Barbara Ward presented a petition, signed by 225 people, in support of Chief Stufano.

Ward, reading from the petition, said "We, the undersigned, are residents of Smithville-DeKalb County and are signing in support of Chief Tom Stufano. We feel he has made a positive impact on our city. Along with his officers, Chief Stufano has made Smithville a safer place for tax paying citizens and a dangerous place for criminals. We're not willing to sacrifice the progress that has been made against crime in the name of politics. We feel that Chief Stufano has brought credibility, integrity, and professionalism to the Smithville Police Department."

Many who attended the meeting showed their support for Chief Stufano with thunderous applause and rousing cheers as Ward concluded her remarks and presented the petition to the mayor and aldermen.

The crowd broke out into applause and cheers again after Smithville Police Investigator Bill Elliott's remarks in support of Chief Stufano. " I'm just here to state my mind. I look out and I see a lot of people out here, most of which I've spoken to and most of which support myself, the rest of the department I work with, and my boss, the Chief."

"About three weeks ago, a decision was made I feel was very uninformed. There wasn't any facts to it and the board, I feel, made a decision without knowing what they were trying to decide. I would ask the board of aldermen here to look out and see these people. They're here to support us and you're here to represent them. I would ask the next time a decision like this is made to take some time, think about the decision you have to make, and think about the people you represent. They stand behind us. I would hope you would take the time to get to know me and the rest of the department before making a decision on my career."

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