published Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Task force facing drug-use allegations

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Employees and the former director of the 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force are under investigation for alleged drug misuse and abuse, Bradley County District Attorney Steve Bebb said.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said the case was opened July 12 and will be turned over to Bebb in the next few weeks.

But Bebb said he doesn’t think the investigation will lead anywhere.

“It’s just crazy,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of people trying to stir up trouble.”

Mike Hall, the former drug task force director, left that job on Sept. 1 to accept a campus pastor position at Life Pointe Ministries in Florida, Bebb said. Hall did not return requests for comment Friday.

As part of the TBI investigation, Hall and the entire force have been drug tested and all the tests came back clean, Bebb said.

He said Criminal Court Judge Amy Reedy and former Cleveland police Detective Duff Brumley initiated the allegation that Hall and others on the force were misusing drugs.

Brumley’s attorney, Jerry Tidwell, disputed that accusation, saying his client’s investigation began after Brumley received a tip that Hall was misusing drugs. Brumley checked into Hall’s pharmaceutical purchases and found nothing, Tidwell said.

“It was very preliminary, very brief,” Tidwell said. “He determined there was no basis to proceed from.”

Reedy declined comment.

Helm said multiple task force members have been interviewed, and the investigation is ongoing.

“I don’t think anything’s going to come of it,” Bebb said. “They’re a good bunch over there [the drug task force].”

Brumley later was fired from the sheriff’s office. He blames his dismissal on Bebb, saying the district attorney told officials that he would not use Brumley as a witness in future cases.

Bebb and Brumley have been trading barbs this week after Bebb filed a court motion saying he wanted to drop the case against Michael Younger, the final defendant in the 1999 Valentine’s Day triple slayings. In the motion, Bebb said actions by Brumley, a prosecution witness, and Reedy make a fair trial impossible.

Brumley said he is being used as a scapegoat and that Bebb only is trying to cover up his own incompetence.

Hall left the drug task force because he would make $26,000 more a year than he was making on the force and because he was “burned out,” Bebb said.

“You can be in this business too long,” he said.

The 10th Judicial District is made up of Bradley, McMinn, Polk and Monroe counties.

about Harrison Keely...

Harrison Keely is an online breaking news producer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He also anchors the daily newscast. He joined the Times Free Press as a reporter in 2010. He previously served as managing editor of the Smoky Mountain Sentinel in western North Carolina and as a business reporter for the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Lee University in 2009 where he served as managing editor of the student news ...

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ceeweed said...

Sour grapes or smoldering cinders? Stay tuned, more drama to come.

October 23, 2010 at 9:19 a.m.
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