published Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Darrin Webb charged with liquor theft

A man convicted of making bombs and illegal gambling who was a "person of interest" in the burning of a local nightclub has been charged with stealing from the restaurant where he recently worked as a manager, according to court documents.

Darrin Webb, 47, recently was indicted by the Hamilton County grand jury on five counts of property theft from Southern Comfort at 511 Broad St. for cases of liquor valued at more than $500 each. The owner of the bar, Mark Chitwood, filed the complaint.

Following the indictment, authorities conducted a probation and parole check at Webb's East Ridge residence at 1401 McBrien Road. After the search, he was charged with possession of a controlled substance for resale when authorities found more than 200 pills for a variety of steroids. Officers also found a few counterfeit bills, police said.

Staff at Southern Comfort declined to comment Wednesday evening. The bar has had a couple of violations pending through the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board, according to police.

It's not the first time Webb has been suspected of stealing from a nightclub.

In 2004, Webb was sued by a former owner of Michael's on Brainerd Road where stereo equipment and kitchen appliances were stolen. A day later, a fire destroyed the club and Webb told the media he took some of the equipment out of the bar a day before the fire, according to Times Free Press archives.

The lawsuit was dropped a year later, according to court records.

Chattanooga Fire Marshal James Whitmire, who previously worked as the chief over the arson division, said Webb was never charged in the Michael's fire. However, he was a person of interest in that fire as well as four other club fires in the Brainerd and Rossville area, Whitmire said.

"It was an associate of his or he was interviewed for every one [of the fires]," Whitmire said.

Webb was convicted of federal charges in 2005 for teaching two men how to make an explosive device out of chlorine and hair gel. He was sentenced to 42 months of prison, according to federal records.

In 2006, he pleaded guilty in Hamilton County Criminal Court to bribing a public servant and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was paroled in 2009, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Webb served a two-year prison sentence in 2002 on charges of fraud and paid more than $36,000 in restitution to two local insurance companies, according to newspaper archives. In that year, he also pleaded guilty in Georgia to three counts of commercial gambling for operating illegal video poker machines.

Webb remained without bond Wednesday evening on the latest charges. His next court date for the drug resale charges is set for July 20 before Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Ronald Durby.

His next court date on the theft charges is set for July 27 before Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.

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