published Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Bradley County judge Sheridan Randolph investigated in reaction to office burglary

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The district attorney handling the probe into a Bradley County Sessions Court judge said Thursday the FBI has asked for information in the case.

Judge Sheridan Randolph is being investigated for his conduct related to a burglary case, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed Thursday.

TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Bebb asked the agency to begin an investigation Sept. 29. The results of that probe have been turned over to Bebb, Helm said.

Bebb, whose office covers Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties, said Thursday that local police came to him with the complaint and he brought in the TBI.

"I am not aware of why the FBI called wanting a copy of that investigation," Bebb said. "I can assure you we have done our duty."

FBI spokeswoman Stacey Bohanan said Thursday the agency's policy is not to confirm or deny any investigation.

Randolph was on the bench Thursday morning and did not answer a telephone message seeking comment.

The case began with a burglary at Randolph's North Ocoee Street law office in downtown Cleveland in late summer. Antique firearms and other items were reported missing.

Cleveland police arrested David Copeland and Gary Looper, records show. Both men face preliminary hearings on burglary charges later this month.

A third suspect, Gregory Workman, was charged with burglarizing Randolph's office on an arrest warrant that Randolph had signed.

Workman said Thursday he was held for more than 72 hours in September without bond, without an attorney and without access to a telephone.

"I begged them for everything. I asked for medical treatment," Workman said.

According to the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, Workman was jailed at 3:01 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 24, 2011, and released at 3:43 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26.

Workman said that when he finally appeared before Randolph, the judge told him, "'I've got to tread lightly on this case.'"

"I told him, 'You don't need to tread lightly, because I didn't do it,'" Workman said.

Workman's hearing, and others related to the case, are recorded on court security video. Bebb said Thursday that video may be part of the investigation and cannot be made public.

On Feb. 1, the case against Workman was dismissed by Judge Daniel Swafford for insufficient probable cause, court records show.

"I told the TBI a long time ago I wanted the charge dropped off the record, not just dismissed," Workman said.

Before his release, Workman said jail officers kept asking, "'Did you really steal the judge's pistol?'"

Randolph signed the arrest warrant for Workman on Sept. 23, 2011, after a woman identified as Patricia Hughes signed a complaint that said: "I saw Gregory Workman give David Copeland a .44 Ruger Black Hawk gun in Room 318 at the Crown Inn. Sheridan Randolph identifies this as one of the items stolen from his office about two weeks ago."

The complaint contains the signatures of "Patricia Hughes" and "Sheridan C. Randolph."

Staff writer Joy Lukachick contributed to this story.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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