Woodbury Tenn -
Yesterday a Facebook post caught my eye and aroused my curiosity. A recent arrival in Cannon County who has been very critical of Cannon County elected officials posted a comment in regard to the TBI investigating the Fentress County Sheriff’s Department. The guy posted “I guess corruption is systematic in Tn. my sources tell me theres (sic) been a TBI agent in the courthouse at every public meeting since the ethics meeting...and maybe even before.”
Several weeks ago, after the Ethics Committee meeting, a guy claiming to be a TBI agent was asking questions. I am very aware that the TBI is very limited to what they can investigate without a request from the District Attorney General. And, based upon my knowledge of what had taken place to bring about the ethics complaint, I was a little suspicious that Jennings Jones would not likely or legitimately ask the TBI to investigate anything that had to do with either of the complaints.
Remember, County Attorney Mike Corley outlined at the beginning of the meeting, the narrow parameters the ethics committee functions under state law.
An investigation by the Cannon County Magazine revealed that after the meeting a younger man dressed in blue jeans, a blue hoodie, and sneakers wearing a backpack approached one of the commissioners in the parking lot of the court house and asked him questions regarding the incident that lead up to one of the ethics complaints. The young man identified himself as “Special Agent Bobby Simmons” of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the TBI. Two other persons witnessed the event and actually interacted with the alleged TBI agent.
While the alleged TBI agent produced a TBI business card, he did not respond to a request by one of the witnesses who asked him for identification, like a badge or identification card.
After the encounter, the alleged TBI agent told the commissioner that he would be back in a week to follow up, but has never been seen since that evening of February 27 in the courthouse square parking lot.
A little investigation reveals that there is a Robert Simmons who is a Special Agent with the TBI that conducts investigations of health care fraud in the state medicaid system. Agent Robert Simmons graduated from Loudon County High School in 1978 and would be around 57 years old. Not the thirty year bearded man described by the witnesses.
The TBI is just as cliquish as other law enforcement agencies, so Special Agent “Bobby” Simmons could be Robert Jr. Son of agent “Robert” but there are still oddities about the incident.
Firstly, the alleged TBI agent seemed to toss aside any and all protocol of a professional investigator that one would expect from a TBI agent. And, don’t forget that he promised to return in a week – six weeks ago, and his not been seen or heard from since!
Agent Bobby was asked for identification. Refusing to provide proper identification is unacceptable of any law enforcement officer. And common sense says if you are an undercover agent trying to fit into a small rural community, you don’t come dressed like a college kid going to a protest.
Finally, good sources of Intel says that there has been no strangers in attendance of Cannon County public meetings since this alleged TBI agent appeared in the parking lot on February 27th.
The alleged TBI agent was very quick to throw around names as to why he was there. He mentioned: Sheriff Darrell Young, Jan Powell who is a constant critic of county officials and Kevin George, husband of one of the persons filing an unfound ethics complaint. It is my understanding that his questions were general and lacked a specific resolve that you might find in an investigation.
So there you go, the truth -
Either way, the TBI Director Mark Gwyn and District Attorney General Jennings Jones has a problem on their hands. They either have a phony TBI Agent attempting to intimidate elected officials in Cannon County, or they have an unprofessional rookie making a mess of what seems to have been a witch hunt attempting to destroy the reputations of a few good people..