Operation Tennessee Waltz
Operation Tennessee Waltz was a sting operation set up by federal and state law enforcement agents, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 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.
From East Tennessee
- Ward Crutchfield (Democrat): State Senator, Chattanooga
- Charles Love: lobbyist, Chattanooga
- J. Chris Newton (Republican): State Representative, Cleveland
From West Tennessee
- Kathryn Bowers (Democrat): State Senator, Memphis
- Pleaded guilty to one count of bribery July 16, 2007
- Roscoe Dixon (Democrat): Shelby County mayor's aide and former State Senator, Memphis
- John N. Ford: State Senator, Memphis
- Michael Hooks, Sr. -- Shelby County County Commissioner, Memphis
- Pleaded guilty to one count of bribery August 21, 2006
- Barry Myers, Memphis
Execution of the operation
In the May 26 edition 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 FBI's Operation Tennessee Waltz
- 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
- August 28, 2007
John Ford was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison to be followed with 2 years of supervised release.
- Branston, John (May 27, 2005). "U.S. Indicts 4 Tennessee Lawmakers in Corruption Case". New York Times (online ed.). Retrieved August 7, 2015.
- Former Tenn. Lawmaker John Ford Convicted of Taking Bribes Associated Press report datelined April 27, 2007; published April 28, 2007 in the Washington Post. Accessed July 16, 2007.
- "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.
- Tenn. Lawmaker Pleads Guilty to Bribery. Associated Press report July 16, 2007. Accessed July 16, 2007.